Not many are aware that there are a few kinds of exoplanets out in the space which are suspicious rare. They are called as hot Neptunes. So far just a few have been discovered among the 3,869 confirmed exoplanets. The astronomers in recent times have made a discovery of an evaporating planet which could possibly be the missing link. It is called as the Gliese 3470b and this planet is losing its atmosphere with a rapid pace which is faster than anyone has observed before.
Observing the speed of the planet vanishing, it throws light on the hypothesis on the reason they have seen so few hot Neptunes is because they have actually shrunk in to mini Neptunes which is one of the most common kinds of exoplanet that is discovered by the Kepler mission. Astronomer, Vincent Bourrier of the University if Geneva in Sauverny said, “The question has been, where have the hot Neptunes gone? If we plot planetary size and distance from the star, there’s a desert, a hole, in that distribution. That’s been a puzzle.”
A hot Neptune is the way it sounds, a giant planet around the size a mass of Neptune or Uranus but is much closer to the host star which is closer than the distance between Earth and the Sun. So it is hotter with an atmospheric temperature of around 927 degrees Celsius. However, there are also other planets similar to Neptune but they are generally found orbiting much farther from their star. So the hot Neptunes are just a rare phenomenon. It is also possible that they do form and vanish somehow.
The Gliese 3470b is not just the only evaporating planet that has been found. There is also Gliese 436b which was spotted leaking a few years back but not in such a fast rate. If the planet continues to evaporate then it could end up in a mini Neptune or even a super-earth.
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