One revolution in 8 hours… Ultralight ‘super Mercury’ discovered

‘Ultra-short-period planet’ orbits in 7.7 hours
Lightest confirmed exoplanet

↑ ‘Super Mercury’ GJ 367 b Imagination. /Photo courtesy of SPP 1992 (Patricia Klein)

A mysterious planet has been discovered that orbits a red dwarf star 31 light-years from Earth once every eight hours. It is the smallest and lightest of the nearly 5,000 exoplanets identified so far.

International researchers such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States announced that they discovered such a planet using the TESS space telescope of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The team decided to name this planet ‘Gliese 367b’ (GJ 367 b).

Gliese 367b has a mass of 55% that of the Earth, and its diameter is about 9000 km, making it smaller than Earth. However, most of the planets have a density close to that of pure iron, so the density is much higher than that of Earth.

Based on this, the researchers believe that the planet is likely to be rocky and likely to contain a solid core of iron and nickel, similar to Mercury. Because of this structure, Gliese 367b is also called ‘super Mercury’.

In addition, GJ 367 b was classified as an ultra-short-period (USP) planet, which orbits in one orbit in 7.7 hours. A very short-period planet is an exoplanet with an orbital period of less than one day. As a result, Gliese 367b is not only smaller in mass and size than Earth, but also the first ultra-short-period planet with accurately measured mass and size.

That’s it.

The research team revealed that there is no possibility that living things exist due to the enormous radiation and high heat because Gliese 367b is closely attached to the maternal ‘Gliese 367’ (GJ 367).

However, given that the mother Gliese 367 is a red dwarf, it is expected that more planets will be discovered in the system depending on the nature of the red dwarf that has several planets.


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