Space

A New Planet spotted orbiting b Centauri

Incoming from scientists in space days ago, a new planet had been spotted orbiting b Centauri, a two star system visible to the human natural eyes but the image was captured by The European Southern Observatory Very Large Telescope (ESO’s VLT). This happens to also be – the hottest and most massive planet-hosting star system found to date, contradicting some astronomers believe that planets could not exist around stars and be this massive or this hot — until now. The planet was also said to have been spotted orbiting at 100 times the distance Jupiter takes to orbit the Sun. The planet could otherwise be called named b Centauri (AB)b or b Centauri b.

Markus Janson, an astronomer at Stockholm University, Sweden and first author of the new study published said that “Finding a planet around b Centauri was very exciting, since it completely changes the picture about massive stars as planet hosts,” on December 8, 2021.

Located approximately 325 light-years away in the constellation Centaurus, the b Centauri two-star system (also known as HIP 71865) has about six times the Sun’s mass, making it historical the most massive system around which a planet has been confirmed. Before now, no planets had been spotted around a star more than three times as massive as the Sun.

Most massive stars are also very hot, and this planet is not any different: its main star is a B-type star that is over three times as hot as the Sun. Due to the high intensity temperature, it emits large amounts of ultraviolet and X-ray radiation.

It also has also a large mass and its star’s intense heat have a strong impact on the surrounding gases, that should work against planet formation causing the surrounding planet to evaporate faster. The “B-type stars are generally considered very destructive and ignites dangerous environments too, so it was believed that it should be exceedingly difficult to form large planets around them, noted Janson.

But the new discovery demonstrates that planets can in truth still form even in a severe star system. “The planet could be described as an an alien world existing in an environment that is completely different from what we experience here on Earth and in our Solar System,” “It’s a harsh environment, dominated by extreme radiation, where everything is on a gigantic scale: the stars are bigger, the planet is bigger, the distances are bigger.” further explained Gayathri Viswanath, co-author and a PhD student at Stockholm University.

Indeed, the planet discovered, is almost at extreme in every way, 10 times as massive as Jupiter, Also cycles around the star system in one of the widest orbits yet discovered, at a distance 100 times greater than the distance of Jupiter from the Sun. This large distance from the central pair of stars could be the key to the planet’s survival.

Most of these data and results are courtesy of the sophisticated Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet Research instrument (SPHERE) mounted on ESO’s VLT in Chile. SPHERE has successfully imaged several planets orbiting stars other than the Sun before, including taking the first-ever image of two planets orbiting a Sun-like star.

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