A smaller exoplanet than Neptune with its own atmosphere was discovered in the Neptune Desert in international collaboration of astronomers, with the University of Warwick playing a leading role.
New research under the direction of dr. Richard West, including Professor Peter Wheatley, dr. Daniel Bayliss and dr. James McCormac of the University of Warwick's Astronomy and Astrophysics Group has identified a rogue planet.
NGTS is located in the Paranal Observatory of the European Southern Observatory in the heart of the Atacama Desert, Chile. It is a collaboration between the British universities of Warwick, Leicester, Cambridge and the Queen's University in Belfast together with the Observatoire de Genève, the DLR in Berlin and the Universidad de Chile. is a planet smaller than Neptune, but three times the size of Earth.
It has a mass of 20 Earth masses and a radius that is 20% smaller than that of Neptune and 1000 degrees Celsius. It orbits the star in just 1.3 days – the equivalent of Earth orbit around the sun of a year.
It is the first exoplanet of its kind found in the Neptune Desert.
The Neptune Desert is the region near stars where no Neptune-sized planets are found. This area is heavily irradiated by the star, which means that the planets do not maintain their gas atmosphere as they evaporate leaving only a rocky core. However, NGTS-4b still has a gas atmosphere.
In search of new planets, astronomers seek to dive into the light of a star – this is the planet orbiting it and blocking the light. Normally, only 1% and more break-ins are detected in soil searches, but the NGTS telescopes can detect a drop of only 0.2%.
Researchers believe that the planet has lately possibly moved to the Neptune Desert for millions of years, or it was very large and the atmosphere is still evaporating.
Dr. Richard West of the Warwick University Institute of Physics comments:
"This planet must be tough – right in the zone where we expected Neptune-sized planets could not survive." It is truly remarkable that we have one Have found planets. " Crossing the planet through a star that dimmers by less than 0.2% has never been possible with telescopes on the ground, and it was great to be working on this project after a year.
See if we can see more planets in the Neptune Desert – maybe the desert is greener than you thought. "
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Richard G. West et al., NGTS-4b: A Sub-Neptune Wandering the Desert Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (2019). DOI: 10.1093 / mnras / stz1084
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