Sunday, 6 May 2018

Helium Yes, Life No: Hot Exoplanet WASP-107b Is Bizarre and Certainly Not Habitable

An artist’s impression of WASP-107b. Image courtesy of ESA/ Hubble, CC BY 4.0.

Joel Kontinen

A new paper by Jessica Spake (a PhD student at the University of Exeter, UK) and colleagues published in Nature discloses the weirdness of WASP-107b, a hot Jupiter-sized exoplanet that has an atmosphere containing helium. It also has a comet-like tail.

Located in the constellation Virgo some 200 light years from us, WASP-107b orbits its star every 5,7 days. At 500º C (932º F), it is one of the hottest exoplanets.

While this bizarre world is as big as Jupiter, its mass is only one-eighth of Jupiter’s.

Many exoplanets tend to be weird, which suggests that Earth is most probably unique, created to sustain life.

Some foreign worlds, such as WASP-12b, are extremely hot. WASP-121b is so hot that it can cause iron to boil.

Our entire solar system seems to differ from all other star- planet systems.

Despite making big headlines, no exoplanet we know of is genuinely habitable.


Wenz, John. 2018. Colossal exoplanet has an enormous comet-like tail of helium. New Scientist (2 May).