(ORDO NEWS) — An international team of scientists has discovered for the first time a planet orbiting a white dwarf, the dense remnant of a sun-like star, in a very close orbit. At the same time, no traces of the influence of the star are noticeable on the object. The TESS spacecraft and the Spitzer telescope were used to search for an unusual planet. This is reported by NASA.
The planet WD 1856 b has dimensions close to Jupiter. Moreover, the white dwarf WD 1856 + 534, around which it revolves, is only 40% larger than the Earth. That is, WD 1856 b is 7 times more than WD 1856 + 534. The object orbits a glowing star once in 34 hours, nearly 60 times faster than Mercury, the planet with the shortest year in the solar system (88 days).
“Somehow WD 1856 b got close to its white dwarf and managed to stay intact,” said Andrew Vanderburg, assistant professor of astronomy at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
The white dwarf process destroys nearby planets, and anything that comes too close afterward is torn apart by tremendous gravity. We have a lot of questions about WD 1856 b getting into this position without any consequences.
Assistant Professor of Astronomy at the University of Wisconsin at Madison
TESS has been tracking large sectors of the sky for almost a month. Long-term observations allow the device to find exoplanets or other systems outside ours, recording changes in the brightness of stars caused by the intersection of the axis of the planet with the axis of the star.
WD 1856 b is located 80 light-years away in the constellation Draco in the northern hemisphere of the sky. This exoplanet orbits a cold white dwarf with a diameter of about 18,000 kilometers. This star can be up to 10 billion years old.
When a sun-like star runs out of fuel, it expands hundreds or thousands of times its original size, forming a cooler red giant star. In the end, it throws out the outer layers of gas, losing up to 80% of its mass. The remaining hot core becomes a white dwarf.
Any nearby objects are usually consumed and burned during this process, which in that case should have happened with WD 1856 b. Therefore, Vanderburg and his colleagues believe that the possible planet should have originated at least 50 times further from its current location. However, so far scientists have only speculations since there is not enough data for a more specific answer.
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