Astronomers have discovered a prodigious gas giant, named NGTS-1b, almost the size of Jupiter; gyrating a white dwarf half the mass and size of Sun, 600 light years from Earth. It is relatively the largest planet, compared to its star, ever found. This discovery is big because it reveals more secrets and questions our current understanding of how planets formed.
The discovery of NGTS-1b is a smash hit, confronting our current theories about planetary formation. Current theories about planetary formation don’t allow for planets this size to be hanging around stars this small. Planetary formation usually happens more slowly around small stars, and there’s generally less material for such planets to form, so the gas giant in this case is certainly bewildering to what’s previously known.
The chief researcher of the University of Warwick, Daniel Bayliss avows it as:
“The discovery of NGTS-1b was a complete surprise to us – such massive planets were not thought to exist around such small stars”.
Researchers, using the Next-Generation Transit Survey wide-field telescope array, are contemplating further about the record breaker NGTS-1b.
Bayliss adds more, “This is the first exoplanet we have found with our new facility and we are already challenging the received wisdom of how planets form. Our challenge now is to find out how common these types of planets are in the galaxy, and with the new NGTS facility we are well-placed to do just that.”
This gas giant’s been called as a “hot” Jupiter; almost similar in size, with about 20% less mass than Jupiter. NGTS-1b orbits much closer to its host star – consequently hotter, and with a much smaller orbital period of 2.6 Earth days.
The star is a red M-class dwarf. This M-class dwarf star which is the most abundant class of stars in our galaxy, accounting for about 75 percent of all neighboring stars. And because they don’t burst as hot as other stars, their hydrogen depletes comparatively slower, making them both longstanding and plenteous. This M-class dwarf is about half the radius and mass as the Sun, inferring that it’s still bigger than the planet.
“NGTS-1b was difficult to find, despite being a monster of a planet, because its parent star is small and faint. Small stars are actually the most common in the Universe, so it is possible that there are many of these giant planets waiting to found,” described the researcher of the University of Warwick and NGTS lead, Peter Wheatley. “Having worked for almost a decade to develop the NGTS telescope array, it is thrilling to see it picking out new and unexpected types of planets. I’m looking forward to seeing what other kinds of exciting new planets we can turn up.”
Since this remarkably giant planet is paired with such a petty star, it implies that more combinations like this may exist out there, just waiting to be discovered.