In grade school, we all had to assemble models of the solar system with styrofoam balls. And, as we’ve been discovering new solar systems lately, perhaps we’ve all had a little nostalgia for those models. But nobody ever thought we’d basically find a giant styrofoam ball floating in space, and yet that’s more or less what NASA has unearthed.
KELT 11b is a gas giant 40% larger than Jupiter and it’s almost all gas; it literally has the density of a giant planet-sized styrofoam ball. It’s also odd for how close it is: It swings around its sun in a complete rotation every five days, so it’s a bit impressive it’s even out there at all, let alone a massive ball of gas. It’s up there with the world that’s entirely ocean and the planet that’s a giant diamond.
However, if you want to visit, you’d better act fast. KELT-11, the star it orbits, is on track to expand into a red giant in about a hundred million years, so the marshmallow planet will be sucked into it and cease to exist. But, hey, nothing lasts forever in the universe, and we’ll still be able to gaze longingly at those styrofoam balls and imagine what other strange planets might be out there.
(via New Atlas)