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·1 min

Talk about climate change. Astronomers have found a giant planet whose elliptical orbit takes it so close to its parent star that its atmosphere virtually catches fire during each near miss. The planet, HD 80606b, located 190 light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major (a.k.a. The Big Dipper), takes about 3 months to complete one circuit, including an interval when it enjoys a stint in the habitable zone for life. But as a team reports 29 January in Nature, whenever the planet makes its closest approach, its temperature shoots up by 700?C from a base of 525?C within a period of only 6 hours. Already too toasty for life as we know it, at its hottest, HD 80606b would melt anything made of steel. (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)