Scientists discover 'puffy planet' as dense as styrofoam

A team of astronomers recently discovered a 'puffy' exoplanet with the density of styrofoam orbiting the star KELT-11, approximately 320 light-years away from Earth.

Led by Joshua Pepper, astronomer and assistant professor of physics at Lehigh University, the group of researchers found that exoplanet KELT-11b is nearly 40 percent bigger than Jupiter, the largest planet in our own solar system.

However, KELT-11b only has about a fifth of the mass of our local gas giant, "making it about as dense as styrofoam, with an extraordinarily large atmosphere."

"We were very surprised by the amazingly low density of this planet. It's extremely big for its mass," said Pepper in a statement.

According to International Business Times, KELT-11b is the third lowest density exoplanet that has ever been discovered, which makes it an exciting prospect to study.

"KELT-11b is one of the most inflated planets known, with an exceptionally large atmospheric scale height," said Pepper. "These attributes make the KELT-11 system a valuable target for follow-up and atmospheric characterization, and it promises to become one of the benchmark systems for the study of inflated exoplanets."

Scientists believe KELT-11b will eventually be swallowed by the star it orbits, which has already begun using up its nuclear fuel and is starting to evolve into a red giant.

At this rate, however, the styrofoam planet's death won't take place for about 100 million more years or so, leaving scientists ample time to learn about its odd properties.

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