As we begin the start of a brand new year lasting 365 days, imagine living on a planet where the entire year lasts just 16 hours. That’s the case on the exoplanet TOI-2109b, which astronomers say is destined to keep getting closer and closer to its star, until the planet disappears.
Reported by Space.com, astronomers say this is now the shortest known orbit of a planet, and it’s getting faster. TOI-2109b is an exoplanet, which is comparable in size to Jupiter. Scientists call them “hot Jupiters” because they are built like Jupiter but orbit closer to their star. This planet is just 1.5 million miles from its star, while Mercury, the closest planet to our sun, pales in comparison at 36 million miles.
TESS scans for dips in darkness, which signify planets blocking their stars, representing orbit. In this case, the dips in darkness came every 16 hours, which clued astronomers into the record-setting orbit.
This exoplanet is five times as massive and one-third larger than our Jupiter, though, and the star it orbits is twice as large as our sun. It’s also the second-hottest known exoplanet, with a temperature of 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
And, its 16 hour-long year is accelerating. Scientists say the planet is getting closer to its star at a rate between 10 and 750 milliseconds per year. This still puts the planet’s demise at an estimated 10 million years away. Astronomers plan to check in with the planet in the spring of next year to try and learn more about its eventual demise.
The planet is 855 lightyears away from Earth, in the Hercules constellation. It was discovered thanks to NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which has been orbiting Earth since April 2018.
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Logan Plant is a freelance writer for IGN. You can find him on Twitter @LoganJPlant.