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NASA spotted a snake-like exoplanet that shed and regrew its own atmosphere

todayMarch 17, 2021 2 1

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The hellish world of GJ 1132 b, discovered in 2015, is only 60% more massive than Earth and is roughly the same age as our home planet. Even the atmospheric pressure at the surface is similar to that here on Earth.

However, this is where the similarities to our life-giving world come to an end. Unlike our own world, GJ 1132 b, found 41 light-years from Earth, is covered in a toxic cauldron of gases. Oddly, this may be the second atmosphere that has encompassed this world.

Utilizing the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers examined the atmosphere of this rocky planet. They found that GJ 1132 b was once, likely, covered in an atmosphere of hydrogen and helium.

“Starting out at several times the diameter of Earth, this so-called “sub-Neptune” is believed to have quickly lost its primordial hydrogen and helium atmosphere due to the intense radiation of the hot, young star it orbits. In a short period of time, such a planet would be stripped down to a bare core about the size of Earth. That’s when things got interesting,” NASA describes.

[Read: How do you build a pet-friendly gadget? We asked experts and animal owners]

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