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‘Cooked’ Earths: NASA discovers exoplanets being stripped of their atmospheres

Written by Victoria Woollaston, www.dailymail.co.uk

Decades of space missions have provided us with clues about atmospheres around planets within our own solar system, and now they’re starting to reveal more about planets that don’t orbit our sun.

Using data from the Nasa Kepler space telescope, astrophysicists have discovered a class of exoplanets whose atmospheres have been stripped away by their host stars. 

Dubbed hot super-Earths, these planets are losing their layers of gas because of blasts of intense radiation that ‘cooks’ the large stellar bodies.  

Astrophysicists used data from the Nasa Kepler space telescope to discover a class of exoplanets whose atmospheres have been stripped away by their host stars. Artist's illustration pictured. Due to their proximity to their host star, the heat the planets suffer means  their 'envelopes' have been blown away by radiation

Astrophysicists used data from the Nasa Kepler space telescope to discover a class of exoplanets whose atmospheres have been stripped away by their host stars. Artist’s illustration pictured. Due to their proximity to their host star, the heat the planets suffer means their ‘envelopes’ have been blown away by radiation

Astrophysicists at the University of Birmingham used data from the Nasa Kepler space telescope to discover a class of extrasolar planets whose atmospheres have been stripped away.

According to the study, planets with gaseous atmospheres that lie very close to their host stars are bombarded by a torrent of high-energy radiation. 

Due to their proximity to the star, the heat that the planets suffer means that their ‘envelopes’ have been blown away by intense radiation. 

This violent ‘stripping’ occurs in planets that are made up of a rocky core with a gaseous outer layer.

The scientists used asteroseismology to characterise the stars and their planets to levels of accuracy not achieved before for these systems. 

Asteroseismology is also known as stellar seismology and is the study of the internal structure of pulsating stars. 

Earlier this year, experts discovered an exotic exoplanet called 55 Cancri e that is more than eight times the mass of Earth and has previously been dubbed the 'diamond planet' because models based on its mass and radius have led some astronomers to speculate that its interior is carbon-rich