Scientists Discover A Planet Circling A Dead Star

Due to the vastness of the cosmos, there is no limit to what we can discover and study, given that we use the right tools and look at the right places.

And now, for the first time ever, researchers and scientists have discovered a planet that’s apparently circling what’s left of an exploded star, giving us a glimpse of what the future holds for our very own sun. Similar to the size of Jupiter, the planet is reportedly about 12,000 light-years away from Earth, and is still locked in orbit with its star, although that star is now merely a white dwarf.

For years, scientists have suspected that these white dwarf stars (or dead stars) still have a possibility of having their own planetary systems, although back then, there had only been one instance of evidence and it’s just a single fragment of a planet around a similar star. However, this new discovery reported in scientific journals Nature and Astrophysical Journal Letters, provides hints that there might still be more of these giant planets not leaving the side of their dead stars. According to the researchers who made the discovery, at least one in about 10,000 white dwarf have planets that are still orbiting them at close range.

“For the past 20 years, it's been more and more clear that there are remnants of planetary systems around white dwarfs. There was the general agreement that those white dwarfs should have proper planets orbiting them, but none had been found so far,” Boris Gänsicke, first author of the Nature paper, said.

The white dwarf, named WDJ0914+1914, had been observed by Gänsicke for quite some time now after he and his colleague observed that there was oxygen present in the data, something that doesn’t happen. To check if it wasn’t a mistake, he and his team made another observation via  the world’s most advanced optical telescopes in Chile.

“It was crystal clear that there was something extremely exciting going on in the system because we detected immediately emissions of hydrogen, oxygen and sulfur. The shape of this line told us that they must come from around the star, not from the star itself,” he added.

From there, they were able to confirm that a giant planet was orbiting the white dwarf, which makes a full orbit of the dead star once every 10 days.

stars Astronomers analyzing stars and planets discovered that the same technique they have been using to explore the universe can be used to help fight breast and skin cancer. Pixabay