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NGTS-1b: A new gigantic planet discovered, anchored to a small star

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Scientists from the University of Warwick (United Kingdom) have discovered a gigantic planet that should not exist, according to the models that explain the formation of the planets. The new research, which will be published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, describes a “monstrous” gaseous plant called NGTS-1b that is larger than expected for the star to which it is anchored by gravity, a weak one dwarf of type M. According to theories, stars can thus “beget” rocky planets but not gaseous planets as large as this, the so-called hot Jupite, objects comparable to this planet of the Solar System.

There is no model that can explain how such a planet could be barely three percent of the distance between Earth and the Sun in the vicinity of such a dwarf star. NGTS-1b weighs 20 percent less than Jupiter and its years barely last 2.6 Earth days. Its star is really small: it has about half the radius and mass of the Sun. In fact, its humble dimensions made astronomers have trouble detecting the planet NGTS-1b, as they did it through transits, that occur when the brightness of the star changes because the planet comes between it and the telescopes. “Despite being a monstrous planet, NGTS-1b was difficult to find because its progenitor star is very small and weak,” said Peter Wheatley, co-author of the study and a researcher at the University of Warwick (United Kingdom).

In science, the models are valid provisionally until there are observations that contradict them. In that sense, this news is not extraordinary. However, the importance of the present study lies in the fact that small M-type stars are the most abundant stars in the Universe, so, “it is very likely that there are many giant plaques still to be discovered,” Wheatley said. Everything indicates that many more will be discovered. NGTS-1b is nothing more than the first planet sighted by the “The Next-Generation Transit Survey” (or NGTS), a large exoplanet tracking program that employs 12 ground-based telescopes and is based on tracking the brightness of thousands of stars for months in search of the darkening caused by the passage of planets in front of them (a moment that is known as transit).

How are exoplanets discovered? On this occasion, the telescopes detected a slight darkening in the star that was repeated every 2.6 days. This, together with the pitch of the star caused by the gravitational pull of the planet, allowed us to calculate its size, position and mass. “The discovery of NGTS-1b was a complete surprise to us: we did not expect such massive planets to exist near such small stars,” Daniel Bayliss, the study’s first author and a researcher at the University of Warwick, said in a statement. “Now our challenge is to discover how frequent are these types of planets in the galaxy, and with the NGTS we are in a good position to achieve it.”

Peter Wheatley, director of the NGTS, whose facilities are in the European Southern Observatory (ESO), in Chile, explained that the current finding is the result of ten years of work: “I look forward to see what other types of planets we can find later »

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. sanika joshi

    November 3, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    I didn't get that how the gaint star don't pull the ngts1b

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