Scientists have discovered a giant planet orbiting a massive pair of super-hot stars, an environment previously thought too harsh for planet formation.
A research article published on Wednesday in Nature Science Journal He said that the discovery of the planet, called “b Centauri (AB) b” or “b Centauri b”, refutes the prevailing belief among astronomers.
“So far, no planets have been observed around a star three times the mass of the Sun,” wrote the European Southern Observatory, which photographed the planet from the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in the Chilean desert.
“It completely changes the picture about massive stars as host planets,” said Professor Markus Jansson, professor of astronomy at Stockholm University.
The double star of type B, which is located at the center of the solar system in the constellation Centaurus, is very massive and hot. ESO said it emits large amounts of ultraviolet and high-energy X-rays, which have a “strong effect on surrounding gas that should act against planet formation.”
“B-type stars are generally considered to be very destructive and dangerous environments, so it was thought that large planets would be very difficult to form around them,” Janson said in a press release.
“It’s a harsh environment, dominated by intense radiation, where everything is on a gigantic scale: the stars are bigger, the planet is bigger, the distances are bigger.”
Gayathri Viswanath, PhD student at Stockholm University
The discovery of the planet was described in July and officially published in Nature on Wednesday, with the researchers saying that “the results show that planets can exist in star systems that are more massive than expected from the extrapolation of previous results.”
Newly Discovered b Centauri (AB) b It is a planet outside the solar system, a planet outside our solar system, and “ten times larger than Jupiter, making it one of the most massive planets ever found,” ESO wrote.
Co-author Gayathri Viswanath, a doctoral student at Stockholm University, added in the press release that it is “an alien world in an environment very different from what we experience here on Earth and in our solar system.”
“It is a harsh environment, dominated by intense radiation, where everything is on a gigantic scale: the stars are larger, the planet is larger, the distances are greater,” Viswanath wrote.
ESO wrote that its orbit is “one of the widest yet discovered”, and is 100 times larger than the distance between Jupiter and the Sun. “This great distance from the central pair of stars could be key to the planet’s survival.”
While the ESO image published this month is the first on the planet since it has been identified, b Centauri (AB) b was imaged but not recognized in previous telescope captures, the researchers said.
In an email to NBC News, Janson said the discovery prompted him and his colleagues to expand on a survey called BEAST, which examines 85 similar stars.
“We will try to get more telescope time to do an extended survey, and we are also scanning all telescope archives after any single large-mass stars that may have been observed in the past,” Janson wrote.
“I think that just in this area there will be an increased intensity of research towards high-mass stars, both for the purpose of discovering planets, but also for their characterization, to find out their components and to try to discover in more detail how they might have formed.”