A helium planet is a planet with a helium-dominated atmosphere. This contrasts with ordinary gas giants such as Jupiter and Saturn, whose atmospheres consist primarily of hydrogen, with helium as a secondary component only. Helium planets might form in a variety of ways. Gliese 436 b is a candidate helium planet.
There are several hypotheses for how a helium planet might form.
A helium planet might form via hydrogen evaporation from a gaseous planet orbiting close to a star. The star will drive off lighter gases more effectively through evaporation than heavier gasses, and over time deplete the hydrogen, leaving a greater proportion of helium behind.
Helium planets are predicted to have roughly the same diameter as hydrogen–helium planets of the same mass.
A scenario for forming helium planets from regular giant planets involves an ice giant, in an orbit so close to its host star that the hydrogen effectively boils out of the atmosphere, evaporating from and escaping the gravitational hold of the planet. The planet's atmosphere will experience a large energy input and because light gases are more readily evaporated than heavier gases, the proportion of helium will steadily increase in the remaining atmosphere. Such a process will take some time to stabilize and completely drive out all the hydrogen, perhaps on the order of 10 billion years, depending on the precise physical conditions and the nature of the planet and the star. Hot Neptunes are candidates for such a scenario.
The loss of hydrogen also leads to a depletion of methane in the atmosphere. On ice giants, methane naturally forms a cycle of melting, evaporation, breakdown and subsequent recombination and condensation. But as hydrogen gets depleted, a fraction of the carbon atoms will not be able to recombine with free hydrogen in the atmosphere and over time this will lead to an overall loss of methane. With time, the methane in the atmospheres of hot ice giants will also get depleted.
One scenario involves an AM CVn type of symbiotic binary star composed of two helium-core white dwarfs surrounded by a circumbinary helium accretion disk formed during mass transfer from the less massive to the more massive white dwarf. After it loses most of its mass, the less massive white dwarf may approach planetary mass.
Helium planets are expected to be distinguishable from regular hydrogen-dominated planets by strong evidence of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Due to hydrogen-depletion, the expected methane in the atmosphere cannot form because there is no hydrogen for the carbon to combine with, and hence carbon combines with oxygen instead, forming CO and CO2. Due to the atmospheric composition, helium planets are expected to be white or grey in appearance. Such a signature can be found in Gliese 436 b, which has a predominance of carbon monoxide.
Blitzars are a hypothetical type of astronomical object in which a spinning pulsar rapidly collapses into a black hole. They are proposed as an explanation for fast radio bursts (FRBs). The idea was proposed in 2013 by Heino Falcke and Luciano Rezzolla.Bright giant
The luminosity class II in the Yerkes spectral classification is given to bright giants. These are stars which straddle the boundary between ordinary giants and supergiants, based on the appearance of their spectra.CN star
A CN star is a star with strong cyanogen bands in its spectrum. Cyanogen is a simple molecule of one carbon atom and one nitrogen atom, with absorption bands around 388.9 and 421.6 nm. This group of stars was first noticed by Nancy G. Roman who called them 4150 stars.Frozen star (hypothetical star)
In astronomy, a frozen star, besides a disused term for a black hole, is a type of hypothetical star that, according to the astronomers Fred Adams and Gregory P. Laughlin, may appear in the future of the Universe when the metallicity of the interstellar medium is several times the solar value.Hot Neptune
A hot Neptune or Hoptune is a type of giant planet with a mass similar to that of Uranus or Neptune orbiting close to its star, normally within less than 1 AU. The first hot Neptune to be discovered with certainty was Gliese 436 b in 2007, an exoplanet about 33 light years away. Recent observations have revealed a larger potential population of hot Neptunes in the Milky Way than was previously thought. Hot Neptunes may have formed either in situ or ex situ.Infrared dark cloud
An infrared dark cloud (IRDC) is a cold, dense region of a giant molecular cloud. They can be seen in silhouette against the bright diffuse mid-infrared emission from the galactic plane.Iron star
In astronomy, an iron star is a hypothetical type of compact star that could occur in the universe in the extremely far future, after perhaps 101500 years.
The premise behind iron stars states that cold fusion occurring via quantum tunnelling would cause the light nuclei in ordinary matter to fuse into iron-56 nuclei. Fission and alpha-particle emission would then make heavy nuclei decay into iron, converting stellar-mass objects to cold spheres of iron. The formation of these stars is only a possibility if protons do not decay. Though the surface of a neutron star may be iron, according to some predictions, it is distinct from an iron star.
Unrelatedly, the term is also used for blue supergiants which have a forest of forbidden FeII lines in their spectra. They are potentially quiescent hot luminous blue variables. Eta Carinae has been described as a prototypical example.Lambda Boötis star
A Lambda Boötis star is a type of peculiar star which has an unusually low abundance of iron peak elements in its surface layers. One possible explanation for this is that it is the result of accretion of metal-poor gas from a circumstellar disc, a second possibility is the accretion of material from a hot Jupiter suffering from mass loss. The prototype is Lambda Boötis.Lead star
A lead star is a low-metallicity star with an overabundance of lead and bismuth as compared to other products of the S-process.List of hottest stars
This is a list of hottest stars so far discovered (excluding degenerate stars), arranged by decreasing temperature. The stars with temperatures higher than 60,000 K are included.OB star
OB stars are hot, massive stars of spectral types O or early-type B that form in loosely organized groups called OB associations. They are short lived, and thus do not move very far from where they formed within their life. During their lifetime, they will emit much ultraviolet radiation. This radiation rapidly ionizes the surrounding interstellar gas of the giant molecular cloud, forming an H II region or Strömgren sphere.
In lists of spectra the "spectrum of OB" refers to "unknown, but belonging to an OB association so thus of early type".Photometric-standard star
Photometric-standard stars are a series of stars that have had their light output in various passbands of photometric system measured very carefully. Other objects can be observed using CCD cameras or photoelectric photometers connected to a telescope, and the flux, or amount of light received, can be compared to a photometric-standard star to determine the exact brightness, or stellar magnitude, of the object.A current set of photometric-standard stars for UBVRI photometry was published by Arlo U. Landolt in 1992 in the Astronomical Journal.Photosphere
The photosphere is a star's outer shell from which light is radiated. The term itself is derived from Ancient Greek roots, φῶς, φωτός/phos, photos meaning "light" and σφαῖρα/sphaira meaning "sphere", in reference to it being a spherical surface that is perceived to emit light. It extends into a star's surface until the plasma becomes opaque, equivalent to an optical depth of approximately 2/3, or equivalently, a depth from which 50% of light will escape without being scattered.
In other words, a photosphere is the deepest region of a luminous object, usually a star, that is transparent to photons of certain wavelengths.Q star
A Q-Star, also known as a grey hole, is a hypothetical type of a compact, heavy neutron star with an exotic state of matter. The Q stands for a conserved particle number. A Q-Star may be mistaken for a stellar black hole.Starfield (astronomy)
A starfield refers to a set of stars visible in an arbitrarily-sized field of view, usually in the context of some region of interest within the celestial sphere. For example: the starfield surrounding the stars Betelgeuse and Rigel could be defined as encompassing some or all of the Orion constellation.Stellar atmosphere
The stellar atmosphere is the outer region of the volume of a star, lying above the stellar core, radiation zone and convection zone.Stellar mass
Stellar mass is a phrase that is used by astronomers to describe the mass of a star. It is usually enumerated in terms of the Sun's mass as a proportion of a solar mass (M☉). Hence, the bright star Sirius has around 2.02 M☉. A star's mass will vary over its lifetime as additional mass becomes accreted, such as from a companion star, or mass is ejected with the stellar wind or pulsational behavior.Supernova impostor
Supernova impostors are stellar explosions that appear at first to be a supernova but do not destroy their progenitor stars. As such, they are a class of extra-powerful novae. They are also known as Type V supernovae, Eta Carinae analogs, and giant eruptions of luminous blue variables (LBV).Yellow giant
A yellow giant is a luminous giant star of low or intermediate mass (roughly 0.5–11 solar masses (M)) in a late phase of its stellar evolution. The outer atmosphere is inflated and tenuous, making the radius large and the surface temperature as low as 5,200-7500 K. The appearance of the yellow giant is from white to yellow, including the spectral types F and G. About 10.6 percent of all giant stars are yellow giants.