"Puff Planets" by NASA, ESA, and L. Hustak, J. Olmsted, D. Player and F. Summers (STScI) / Public Domain

Astronomers Confirm The Existence of Planets That Have The Lightness of Cotton Candy

Dec 20, 2019

By Michelle Starr

No two planets in the Solar System are exactly alike, but we can broadly categorise them – rocky worlds Earth, Venus, Mercury and Mars; gas giants Saturn and Jupiter; ice giants Neptune and Uranus; and dwarf planets, like Pluto and Ceres.

That sounds pretty diverse, but astronomers have just made a detailed study of a fascinating type of planet we don’t have – super-puff worlds.

Of all the exoplanets our efforts have uncovered to date, only a handful – less than 15 – have been puffy. These three young planets, seen orbiting a star around 2,600 light-years away, are almost the size of Jupiter, but have less than one percent of its mass.

That means they have spectacularly low density; in fact, they’re the puffiest planets ever seen, with a density lower than 0.1 grams per cubic centimetre. In press statements, the texture of these planets has been likened to cotton candy.

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