Planets in Transformation

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Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with NASA’s Universe of Learning partners: Caltech/IPAC, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Video imagery:

·        Illustration of mini-Neptune TOI 560.01: Adam Makarenko (Keck Observatory)
·        Animation of mini-Neptune transforming to a super-Earth: Adam Makarenko (Keck Observatory)

Writer: Leah Ramsay
Designer: Leah Hustak, Joseph Olmsted
Science review: Dr. Kelly Lepo
Education review: Jim Manning
Music from Music for Non-Profits 

Objects and gases of various colors in outer space. Text, News from the Universe
February 18, 2022. Planets in Transformation
Many planetary systems have world's not found in our solar system: planets larger than Earth, but smaller than Neptune.
Astronomers now have evidence of two mini-Neptunes losing their atmospheres, transforming into super-Earths.
Atmospheres of closely orbiting mini-Neptunes may be evaporating due to intense radiation from their parent star, leaving their remaining rocky core as a super-Earth.
This could explain why not many planets have been found between the sizes of super-Earths and mini-Neptunes.
It is possible this type of planetary transformation is common in the universe, but just not found in our solar system.
This news was brought to you in part by the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, MD