Scientists have revealed that the distant world known as Fomalhaut b, famous as one of the first exoplanets discovered outside the Solar System, has disappeared.
This unexpected behavior of the “planet” located 25 light-years from Earth, led scientists to the conclusion that what they believed to be a distant world did not exist at all.
Instead, astronomers believe that the imaginary planet was actually a cloud of dust, left in the aftermath of the cosmic collision, which has since launched so much that it is now invisible.
When Fomalhaut b was first discovered in the mid-2000s, it was one of the first outside worlds to be observed in visible light by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.
And as astronomers first saw it in 2004 and 2006, the planet emerged as a bright and cool point moving rapidly across the sky. But after ten years, that point has disappeared.
Astronomers now believe that these observations were actually the result of two ice bodies colliding with each other. And when they did, they left behind a cloud of fine dust particles that were visible through space, and that was the mistake that astronomers believed to be a planet located 25 light-years away.
Although the new discovery means that the original discovery was wrong, it also opens up a completely new, and perhaps even more surprising, kind of discovery in seeing such a breakdown. The Hubble images may not appear as a planet but show the suspected post-collision, allowing researchers to research a new phenomenon.
“These collisions are very rare, so this is a great opportunity from which we can actually see evidence of their occurrence,” said Andras Gaspar, astronomer assistant at the Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona and lead author of the new paper. “We think we were in the right place at the right time to see such an unlikely event with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope,” he added.
The discovery may help shed light not on the whereabouts of the planets, but on how they perish as well, when they destroy each other.
George Ricky, professor of astronomy at Regent at the Steward Observatory, said: “The Fomalhaut star system is the ultimate laboratory of all of our ideas about how exoplanets and star systems have evolved. We already have evidence of such collisions in other systems, but nothing of this magnitude has been observed in Our Solar System. This is a blueprint for how planets destroy one another. ”
The scientists, whose research was published on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reached this conclusion after discovering a variety of unusual properties of the supposed outer planet. And the fact that it can be seen in visible light was strange, given that any external planet must be so small that it does not reflect enough light and therefore cannot be seen, and on the other hand, its heat cannot be seen in the infrared, but scientists expected it to be The planet is warm enough to shine in this way.
Source: The Independent