Largest planet in the universe


Summary

The giant ball, made of mostly hydrogen, is some 1,400 light years away.

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Scientists believe the planet is 1.7 times the diameter of Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, and has a temperature of 1,260 degrees Celsius.

"There is probably not a really firm surface anywhere on the planet.

You would sink into it," said Georgi Mandushev, a research scientist at Lowell Observatory in Arizona and lead author of an article announcing the finding in the peer-reviewed Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Lowell, along with the California Institute of Technology's Palomar Observatory and telescopes in Spain's Canary Islands, discovered the planet circling a star in the constellation Hercules.

Lowell announced the finding on Monday.

Scientists first spotted the new planet, called TrES-4, in the northern spring of 2006.

’Fluffy’ planet

Scientists at Caltech, Harvard University and the WM Keck Observatory in Hawaii later confirmed the discovery.

"It's just letting us know that nature has some surprises for us… a much wider range of possibility than we could imagine," said Alan Boss at the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

He said scientists "can't understand why these so-called fluffy planets are so fluffy.

It really is a mystery, just how they can be so low-density."

Scientists also are working on the possibility of another planet in the same constellation.

"It's tough," Mr Mandushev said.

"We're not really sure what's going on there.

There might actually be another planet in this field, which would be incredible."

Lowell is best known for the 1930 discovery of Pluto, which since has been demoted from planet status.


The giant ball, made of mostly hydrogen, is some 1,400 light years away.

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Scientists believe the planet is 1.7 times the diameter of Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, and has a temperature of 1,260 degrees Celsius.

"There is probably not a really firm surface anywhere on the planet.

You would sink into it," said Georgi Mandushev, a research scientist at Lowell Observatory in Arizona and lead author of an article announcing the finding in the peer-reviewed Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Lowell, along with the California Institute of Technology's Palomar Observatory and telescopes in Spain's Canary Islands, discovered the planet circling a star in the constellation Hercules.

Lowell announced the finding on Monday.

Scientists first spotted the new planet, called TrES-4, in the northern spring of 2006.

’Fluffy’ planet

Scientists at Caltech, Harvard University and the WM Keck Observatory in Hawaii later confirmed the discovery.

"It's just letting us know that nature has some surprises for us… a much wider range of possibility than we could imagine," said Alan Boss at the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

He said scientists "can't understand why these so-called fluffy planets are so fluffy.

It really is a mystery, just how they can be so low-density."

Scientists also are working on the possibility of another planet in the same constellation.

"It's tough," Mr Mandushev said.

"We're not really sure what's going on there.

There might actually be another planet in this field, which would be incredible."

Lowell is best known for the 1930 discovery of Pluto, which since has been demoted from planet status.