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Image of the TrES  (Source: Caltech)
TrES-4 is a monstrous planet located 1,400 light years from Earth

A team of international astronomers recently discovered the largest known planet orbiting a star outside of the Earth's solar system. A team utilizing the Transatlantic Exoplanet Survey, or TrES, first spotted the large planet in 2006, but waited for confirmation from several universities.

The planet currently orbits a star located in the Hercules constellation, located around 1,400 light years away from Earth.  Astronomers used three telescopes, two in Arizona, one in the Canary Islands, to make the discovery.

The Astrophysics Journal will publish full details about the planet.

The planet, known as TrES-4, is mainly composed of hydrogen and around 75 percent larger than Jupiter – the largest planet in the Earth's solar system. TrES-4's fiery temperature of 2,300 degrees Fahrenheit makes it unlikely anything lives on the planet.  

TrES-4 completes a full revolution around its star in less than four days, meaning a standard week on Earth is the equivalent of almost two years on TrES-4.

The planet is so light astronomers believe it would be able to float on water.  The planet's density is about 0.2 grams per cubic centimeter – just a bit more than a wine cork, but less than balsa wood.

“It's a very enigmatic planet, I would say, because it's so big and has such a low density,” said Georgi Mandushev, lead author for the TrES-4 article in the Astrophysics Journal.




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