MON­STER PLANET FOUND

First News - - World News - by Ed­die de Oliveira

A ‘MON­STER’ planet that has been dis­cov­ered by a team of astronomers wrecks a the­ory that gi­ant plan­ets can’t be formed by a very small star.

It is the largest planet com­pared to the size of its com­pan­ion star ever dis­cov­ered in the uni­verse.

NGTS-1b, as the planet has been named, is 600 light years away from Earth. It is a gas gi­ant, just like Jupiter and Saturn, but it or­bits a star only half the size of our own star, the sun.

The planet is about the same size as Jupiter, which is ap­prox­i­mately 143,000 kilo­me­tres wide at its equa­tor – big enough to fit more than 1,300 Earths in­side.

NGTS-1b sits very close to its star – just 3% of the dis­tance be­tween Earth and the sun. It or­bits its star ev­ery 2.6 days, mean­ing a year on the planet lasts just two and a half days. That’s a lot of New Year’s Eve par­ties!

Pre­vi­ously, ex­perts thought that a planet of this size could not be formed by such a small star. Ac­cord­ing to the the­ory, small stars can form rocky plan­ets (sim­i­lar to Earth or Mars) but they don’t gather enough ma­te­rial to­gether to form Jupiter-sized plan­ets. The new dis­cov­ery by a team led by sci­en­tists from the Univer­sity of War­wick­shire blows that the­ory to bits.

NGTS-1b or­bits a red M-dwarf star, which is the most com­mon type of star in the uni­verse. This means there could be many more gi­ant plan­ets like NGTS-1b out there, or­bit­ing small stars.

An artist’s im­pres­sion of planet NGTS-1b with its nearby star

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