Since scientists started identifying lots of planets orbiting distant stars in the past decade, one of the weirder types is the surprisingly common "hot Jupiter" -- a gas giant like the ones we know that orbits very close to its star. Now NASA's Spitzer space telescope has spotted a particularly weird hot Jupiter that's more of a "very hot and cold Jupiter."
The planet, called HD 80606b, is about 190 light-years from Earth and has a highly eccentric orbit around its star that's more like that of a comet than the planets in our solar system. Every 111 days, the planet passes so close around its star that it almost touches it -- if it were able, it could probably reach out and high-five or fist-bump its sun. It then swings farther away from its star (a little less than the distance between our sun and Earth) before doing a U-turn at the other end of its elliptical orbit to repeat the cycle.