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Out of This World
Art by Ken Edward

Seen from a hypothetical moon, the giant planet detected around the star HD 209458 sheds a "comet tail" of superheated gas. The planet lies so close to its star that it completes an orbit every 3.5 days. Each time around, it makes a transit, passing across our line of sight to its star. By watching for changes in the star's light as it shines through the planet's bloated atmosphere, astronomers have detected clues that heat may be gradually stripping the gases away.



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