Tuesday, August 18, 2009

WASP 17

British scientists have recently discovered a new extra-solar planet known as WASP 17. Most extra-solar planets that have been found to date are large, they are easier to find. WASP 17 is no exception. At twice the size of Jupiter it is now the largest planet known. But at half the mass of Jupiter, it is a cosmic fluff ball. But what really has astronomers knickers all in a twist is that it is the first planet ever discovered with a retrograde orbit. In other words, it rotates backwards. Needless to say WASPs 1 through 16 have not been very receptive to this newcomer.

WASP 17 has been omitted from astronomical registries and is routinely excluded from planetary alignments, though always cited as being for logistical reasons. Despite being smaller, some nearby planets attempt to eclipse WASP 17 to obscure it from being clearly viewed; theoretically to keep up the appearance of a "normal" solar system. Though it is not known whether WASP 17 has any moons, it is generally assumed that it has a ton of them. You know how those retrograde planets are with moons! They are usually dragging 20 or 30 around with them all the time. It is like they have no gravitational self-control.

A lot of speculation has already begun about a WASP 18. There is great hope being pinned on it to bring some respectability back to the WASP program. Above is an artist's rendering of WASP 17. Other WASP images shown below:

2 comments:

cardiogirl said...

I would like to work in the department that names new planets. I think that would be fun. But now I feel pressured to come up with a new name to replace WASP 17 and I am drawing a blank.

Maybe it wouldn't be that fun after all.

SkylersDad said...

Twice the size and half the mass. Sounds like Wasp 17 is into light beer.