Giant Planet is Found Orbiting a Tiny Star in a Bizarre Combination

Giant Planet is Found Orbiting a Tiny Star in a Bizarre Combination

Giant Planet is Found Orbiting a Tiny Star in a Bizarre Combination

"Our challenge is to now find out how common these types of planets are in the galaxy, and with the new NGTS facility we are well-placed to do just that". Up until now, dwarf stars like NGTS-1 were thought to be able to host smaller rocky worlds, but nothing remotely as large as NGTS-1b appears to be. The two bodies are gravitationally locked close together; the mammoth planet completes an orbit in just over 2.6 days. The planet is located about 600 light-years from our planet, and it raises new questions about the formation of planets and how one could form with such a small star.

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, despite the fact the small size of its star made it hard to spot.

The periodic dimming of the star was monitored over several months to gather enough data to calculate the gargantuan planet's size, position and mass. Peter Wheatley, leader of the NGTS and professor at the astronomy and astrophysics department at the University of Warwick, said: "NGTS-1b was hard to find, despite being a monster of a planet, because its parent star is small and faint". The bodies closer to the host star have to be made of materials with higher melting points to withstand the heat from the star, whereas planets made of gas and ice are more volatile and only survive at further distances.

An global collaboration of researchers found the planet using the Next-Generation Transit Survey, an array of 12 telescopes at the Paranal Observatory in northern Chile that searches for a telltale dimming in distant stars that would indicate planets passing by. NGTS-1 is larger than TRAPPIST-1, but researchers are still unsure how the star could have gathered enough material to build a large gas giant during the system's formation, they said in the statement. For this reason, the planet's orbit is only 2.6 days long and a year for this planet is only 2.5 days in duration.

As for the star itself, it's a red M-class dwarf.


Since the unusually huge planet is paired with such a common star, it means more combinations like this may exist out there. "For comparison, Jupiter is only about 10 percent the radius of our sun". By simply existing around a star that is half the size of our sun, NGTS-1b punctures a big hole in that idea.

Red dwarfs are the most common type of star in the universe, but they aren't the kind you see when you look up at the night sky because they are too dim for the naked eye.

Speaking of the implications of such a finding, lead author of the study Dr Daniel Bayliss said: "The discovery of NGTS-1b was a complete surprise to us".

A giant planet - the existence of which was previously thought extremely unlikely - has been discovered by an global collaboration of astronomers, with the University of Warwick taking a leading role.

The research has been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, and can be read online on the pre-print server arXiv.

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