According to a new study, astronomers have discovered a planet that is more than 10 times the size of Jupiter and orbits a star more than three times hotter than our Sun.
Nature this week published details of the newly discovered planet, named b Centauri b. According to what scientists know about planet formation, it shouldn’t exist because it is one of the most massive planets ever discovered.
In the constellation Centaurus, Europe’s Very Large Telescope has discovered an enormous mass orbiting the stars B Centauri, which are six times more massive than the sun, and gravitationally bound together.
Massive planet-hosting system
Researchers say the planet is the hottest and most massive planet-hosting system ever discovered. Its orbit is about 100 times larger than Jupiter’s and about 560 times larger than Earth’s.
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It was the first time a planet orbited a star more than three times the mass of the sun until the discovery of this planet, which is located 325 light-years from Earth. There was a time when some astronomers believed planets that massive and hot couldn’t exist around stars.
Massive disks of gas and dust, which surround newborn stars, are the places where planets form. Previously, it was believed that stars larger than that emitted so much high-energy radiation that they would burn up planets as they formed. Those beliefs are shattered by this discovery.
While most astronomers assume that finding a planet farther away from its parent star is improbable, the most recent results suggest this.
A Swedish astronomer says, “The discovery of a planet around b Centauri is great news for all astronomers. It’s game-changing stuff. The star that was discovered has shown us that even massive stars can host planets.”
It has now been revealed that large planets can form around B stars in a similar way to planetary formation around ordinary stars.
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This study reveals that the planet is able to escape the gravitational forces of the central pair of stars due to its massive distance from them.
It’s a harsh environment, full of extreme radiation that has given it a gigantic scale. In other words: vast amounts of energy. The stars are bigger, the planet is bigger, the distances are bigger than you could possibly imagine.
Several other space imaging missions have picked up the planet in the past. Researchers initially imaged it nearly twenty years ago, but future teams were able to classify it as a planet after examining the archival data.
The discovery of b Centauri b is a spectacular find. This massive planet, about 10 times heavier than Jupiter, is orbiting a pair of stars. It is one of the most massive planets ever spotted and, given what we know about planet formation, it technically shouldn’t exist.
The orbital period of b Centauri b is 19.5 days, with its parent stars at least 6 times the mass of our Sun and located some 467 light-years from Earth in the southern constellation Centaurus (The Centaur).
When the ESO team observed b Centauri b back in 2010 they found it to be orbiting its host stars at a distance of about 650 000 000 km – more than 100 times the distance between the Sun and Neptune! The planet itself is more than 20 times closer to its host stars than Mercury is to our Sun. It completes an orbit once every 19.5 days – very fast compared to our own planet, which takes almost a year to complete an orbit around the Sun.
The host stars also rotate around each other every 25 days – faster than our Sun’s rotation period of 28 days.
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