Researchers may have at last unraveled the mystery behind the transformation of big alien planets into ‘super-Earths’


The air around a few planets beyond our solar system is leaking away into space, causing these worlds to get smaller, astronomers reported on Nov. 15. And these planets’ atmospheres aren’t getting blown away by harsh winds from their stars as you might expect, but rather by their own doing.

About 90 tons of air from Earth’s protective blanket, responsible for sheltering life, is known to escape into space every day because our atmosphere gets heated by the sun. At this super slow rate, however, scientists think it would take our planet at least 15 trillion years to be completely stripped of its atmosphere. So there’s nothing to worry about on that front.

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