The planet has the scientific name WASP-103b. It is larger than Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, and probably has about the same composition. WASP-103b orbits a star nearly twice the size of our sun and 200 degrees warmer.
The gravity of that star causes WASP-103b to be pulled apart, as it were. “Think of a football that pulls you apart. It automatically becomes a rugby ball,” says science journalist Adriaan ter Braack of the scientific magazine Quest. “The planet is fifty times closer to the star than the Earth is to the sun, so the tidal forces are very strong,” he says. “It’s a logical consequence of the laws of nature, but a distorted exoplanet like this has never been observed before. So it’s certainly special.”
It is the first time the deformation of a planet has been determined according to ESA. WASP-103b was already detected in 2014 by space telescopes Hubble and Spitzer, but the strange shape was not yet known.