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WASHINGTON – Astronomers have found what appears to be a gigantic suicidal planet.
The odd, fiery planet is so close to its star and so large that it is triggering tremendous plasma tides on the star. Those powerful tides are in turn warping the planet's zippy less-than-a-day orbit around its star.
The result: an ever-closer tango of death, with the planet eventually spiraling into the star.
It's a slow death. The planet WASP-18b has maybe a million years to live, said planet discoverer Coel Hellier, a professor of astrophysics at the Keele University in England. Hellier's report on the suicidal planet is in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.
"It's causing its own destruction by creating these tides," Hellier said.
The star is called WASP-18 and the planet is WASP-18b because of the Wide Angle Search for Planets team that found them.
Astronomers have found a giant planet orbiting so close to its parent star that it's bound to spiral inward to its doom or else be ripped to shreds by the star's gravity. Either way, the planet called WASP-18b should provide astronomers with a mother lode of data about the delicate gravitational balancing act that affects all solar systems.
Originally posted by mikerussellus
But I think the planet had cancer, and was directed by the state of Washington to ram itself into the sun, instead of costly treatments. . .