Researchers discovered the WASP-12b in 2008 using a transit method technique – observing dips in the brightness of stars, which means that they are orbited by planets.

Scientists have for the first time identified an exoplanet that is spiraling towards its demise, according to research published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters on 27 December. WASP-12b belongs to a type of planet called hot Jupiters. They are physically similar our solar system’s fifth planet, but have very short orbital periods, resulting in close proximity to stars and high temperatures, hence the moniker hot Jupiter.

Researchers have long suspected that having a close proximity to stars eventually brings about the demise of hot Jupiters as they get too close to hot stars, which then rip them apart. Scientists, however, had no inkling of how long this fatal waltz could last.

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