Stars give small planets a gravitational ‘pinch’ to strip away their atmospheres

An illustration of a red and yellow run in the top left of the screen. Three worlds are seen toward the right of the screen, two of which have leaking atmospheres.

A scientist has learned more about the violent processes that tear away planets’ atmospheres, and has discovered that squishing and squeezing a parent star can contribute to this process.

The research, conducted by Guo Jianheng of the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Yunnan Observatories, could help astronomers better determine which extrasolar planets, or “exoplanets,” to look at more closely as they expand their search for life beyond the solar system.

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