Scientists have discovered a “monster” planet which appears to be bigger than the sun that it orbits. The huge planet is the size of Jupiter. However, the star that it orbits is an old red dwarf star that is only the half size of our sun. This discovery is quite challenging to scientists and could make them rethink some laws of astronomy and physics.
The huge planet is known as NGTS-1b, and the fact that it is orbiting an old, small red dwarf is quite unusual and nearly impossible.
The scientists who discovered it didn’t think it was possible for such a huge planet to orbit such a tiny star because it contradicts some of the theories related to how planets form and exist. It is important to note that the solar system in which this huge planet orbits is 600 light years from Earth. Furthermore, the ratio between the star and the huge planet is quite odd.
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Dr. Daniel Bayliss of the University of Warwick led the team of astronomers who discovered this star.
He told AFP, “The discovery of NGTS-1b was a complete surprise to us. Such massive planets were not thought to exist around such small stars… We are already challenging the received wisdom of how planets form. Our challenge is to find now out how common these types of planets are in the galaxy.”
Scientists discovered NGTS-1b using the Next-Generation Transit Survey (NGTS.) This is a robotic array of telescopes that are located in Chile’s Atacama desert, and it was designed to search for exoplanets that are passing in front of the stars they are orbiting. The “hot Jupiter” gas giant is very close to its star. In fact, it’s just 3% of the distance between the Earth and the sun. That being said, the planet makes one orbit every 2.6 days. Its surface temperature measures at around 530C.
Professor Peter Wheatley from the University of Warwick heads the NGTS, and he told AFP, “NGTS-1b was difficult to find, despite being a monster of a planet, because its parent star is small and faint. Small stars are actually the most common in the universe, so it is possible that there are many of these giant planets waiting to found. Having worked for almost a decade to develop the NGTS telescope array, it is thrilling to see it picking out new and unexpected types of planets.”