Sunday, 5 January 2020


Of the over four-thousand confirmed exoplanets—with some five thousand candidates waiting in the wings—three of the strangest, most unexpected reside in the Kepler 51 system, located in the Cygnus constellation twenty-six hundred light years away and have been classified as super-puffs.
Gas giants with the same circumference as Jupiter, they have only about one percent of the density, their rarefied atmospheres beaten to an airy consistency. Astronomers cannot quite fathom why the planets have such characteristics—though one theory suggests that the apparent surface is an upwelling of dust driven by some equally novel geothermal reaction—but agree that novel systems such as these are good incubators for positing the range of possibilities for planetary composition.