Tech UPTechnologyThis planet should not exist

This planet should not exist

Scientists have discovered a new planet and … it is very, very, very big. The new exoplanet, named “b Centauri b” for its location in orbit around the binary star system b Centauri, is 325 light years from Earth in the neighboring constellation Centauri.

Among its unusual qualities we highlight that it is orbiting a binary system that is somewhere in the middle six and ten times heavier than our Sun, which now makes the b Centauri system the heaviest known host of planets.

b Centauri is also the hottest pair of stars with an orbiting planet; so hot, that we thought it was impossible for any planet to orbit them. The “main” star, b Centauri A, is roughly three times hotter than our Sun and combined with its companion, this system is destroying the newly discovered planet with brutal amounts of X-rays and ultraviolet radiation.

“Finding a planet around b Centauri was very exciting, as it completely changes the picture of massive stars as planet hosts,” said Markus Janson, an astronomer at Stockholm University in Sweden and lead author of the study.

Experts observed this planet with the spectropolarimetric high contrast exoplanet research instrument (SPHERE) mounted on the Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory (VLT of ESO) in Chile, on March 20, 2019 and then again on April 10. . 2021.

“Our results show that planets can reside in much more massive star systems than might be expected from extrapolation of previous results,” say the astronomers in the journal Nature that publishes the study.

As mega-scopes get more and more advanced, the universe is likely to continue to get stranger and larger than ever. We can’t wait to see what James Webb himself has in store for us.




Referencia: Markus Janson, A wide-orbit giant planet in the high-mass b Centauri binary system, Nature (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-04124-8.

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