The marvelous line of discoveries made by the Kepler mission continued last week with the announcement (article) of two planets orbiting a hot B subdwarf — a star way past its prime. Both planetary candidates are smaller than the Earth and are on very short orbits which is already exciting on its own.
What makes them special, however, is their unusual history. The authors suggest that these are the remnants (cores) of larger planets that have been immersed inside the star as it expanded to become a Red Giant — the inevitable fate of our own planet. The two probably proceeded into spiraling ever deeper inside the envelope of the gigantic star, losing mass and possibly even driving the evolution of the host itself.
This discovery adds yet another example of the wide variety of environments extrasolar planets can be found in. More importantly, it show how…stubborn…and resourceful planets are in the game of survival. But of course, nothing less is to be expected of the carriers of this most fascinating and robust thing called life.