Gigantic 'Monster' planet NGTS-1b found that challenges planetary formation theory, say scientists

New Delhi, News Nation Bureau | Updated : 03 November 2017, 08:12 AM
Gigantic 'Monster' planet NGTS-1b orbiting tiny star that challenges planetary formation theory, say scientists.
Gigantic 'Monster' planet NGTS-1b orbiting tiny star that challenges planetary formation theory, say scientists.

Defying all the theories which say that a massive planetary body cannot form around a stellar host, in the latest research scientists have discovered a 'monster' planet orbiting a small distant star.

According to theories, small stars can readily form rocky planets but do not gather enough material together to form Jupiter-sized planets.

The recently discovered planet named as 'NGTS-1b' which is a 'gas giant'. The planet is also known as 'hot Jupiter' because of its size and temperature, which is a class of planets that are at least as large as our solar system's very own Jupiter, but with around 20 percent less mass.

And the distance between Jupiter and NGTS-1b is very less-just three percent of the distance between Earth and the Sun, and completes an orbit every 2.6 days, meaning a year on NGTS-1b lasts two and a half Earth-days.

In contrast, the host star is small, with a radius and mass half that of our Sun."Despite being a monster of a planet, NGTS-1b was difficult to find because its parent star is so small and faint," said Peter Wheatley from the University of Warwick in the UK.

The significance of the discovery given the challenging circumstances "small stars like this red M-dwarf are actually the most common in the universe, so it is possible that there are many of these giant planets waiting to be found," Wheatley said.

The Next-Generation Transit Survey (or 'NGTS') which employs an array of 12 telescopes to scour the sky found the first planet NGTS-1b.

By continually observing patches of the night sky over many months, and detecting red light from the star with innovative red-sensitive cameras, the researchers discovered.

Researchers have found dips in the light from the star every 3.6 days which implies that a planet was orbiting and periodically blocking the starlight.

Using these data, they then tracked the planet's orbit and calculated the size, position, and mass of NGTS-1b by measuring the radial velocity of the star.

In fact, this method, measuring how much the star 'wobbles' due to the gravitational tug from the planet, was the best way of measuring NGTS-1b's size, researchers said.

First Published: Friday, November 03, 2017 07:54 AM

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