ScienceShot: A Jupiter-Sized 'Comet'

Comets aren't the only celestial bodies with long, glowing tails. A star 153 light years away is blowing away the atmosphere of planet HD 209458b, which is only slightly smaller than Jupiter, creating more or less the same effect. According to observations by NASA's Hubble Telescope reported this month in The Astrophysical Journal, the gas giant circles so close to its sun (an orbit of 3.5 days compared with Mercury's 88) that solar winds are slowly roasting it out of existence, causing its outer gases to evaporate into space. The planet isn't going to disappear anytime soon, however: Researchers estimate it will take a trillion years before HD 209458b is completely vaporized. That's about 100 times as long as the universe has been around.

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