When we think of planets, we imagine extremely large and heavy stars. Well, when we talk about size, at least on Earth scale, they really are giants. However, as some are made up of gas, they can also be incredibly light.
But how light? Well, the lightest planet on record can weigh the same as a cork in a bottle. At least that’s what researchers at the California Institute of Technology’s Palomar Observatory believe, who discovered the exoplanet TrEs-4, located in the constellation of Hercules, about 1,435 light-years from Earth, relatively “close” for spatial distances.
Lightest planet ever found
But this planet isn’t just light, it’s also giant . In fact, one of the biggest we know. TrEs-4 is 70% larger than Jupiter (the largest in the solar system). It has an absurdly hot atmosphere of approximately 1,500 °C and was located in 2006.
The researchers believe there is no surface on the planet, just gas, weighing just 0.2 grams per cubic centimeter, the equivalent of a cork in a bottle and enough for it to float on water if placed in a hypothetical ocean.
“There is probably no flat surface on the planet,” said Georgi Mandushev, one of the scientists who worked on the project that discovered the “Cork Planet”, as it was nicknamed. “TrES-4 appears to be a theoretical problem,” added Edward Dunham, a member of the Lowell Observatory study team. “Problems are good, because we learn new things by solving them”.