Astronomers have discovered a monster planet as big as the planet Jupiter orbiting a dwarf star. The giant planet called NGTS-1b was detected by an international collaboration of researchers using the Next-Generation Transit Survey (NGTS) observing facility in northern Chile.
The discovery is described in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. It was led by Daniel Bayliss from the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom and other colleagues.
The scientists are puzzled on how the giant planet and dwarf star could have formed. In the past, the scientists theorized that small stars could shape rocky planets. The small stars do not have sufficient material to form a massive planet, yet this contradicts the new discovery.
Bayliss said that the discovery of this massive planet surprised them. This is because these huge planets were not thought to exist around such small stars. He further said that this is the first exoplanet that they have found with their new NGTS facility and they are already challenging the received wisdom of how planets form.
Space reports that the planet NGTS-1b is located about 600 light-years from the solar system. It is identified as a gas giant planet as big as the size of Jupiter. Meanwhile, the star is just about half the mass and radius of the Sun.
The monster planet has been found orbiting the star at 3 percent the distance from the Earth to the Sun. It moves fast at around a full orbit every 2.6 Earth days.
Peter Wheatley, a professor at the University of Warwick, said that NGTS-1b was difficult to find despite being a monster of a planet because its parent star is small and faint. He explained that small stars are the most common in the universe. This means that it is possible that there are many giant planets in the universe.
Wheatley further said that it is thrilling to see it picking out the new and unexpected types of planets. He is looking forward to seeing what other types of exciting new planets they could discover in the future, as noted by Fox News.
Meanwhile, the Next-Generation Transit Survey is composed of 12 telescopes at the Paranal Observatory situated in northern Chile. It is designed to search transiting planets revolving around stars.
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