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NASA identifies the first possible “surviving” planet that embraces a white dwarf



NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and the retired space agency’s Spitzer Space Telescope have been used to locate the first possible “surviving” planet embracing a white dwarf star.

White dwarfs are what stars become after they run out of their nuclear fuel.

“The Jupiter-sized object, called WD 1856 b, is about seven times larger than the white dwarf, called WD 1856 + 534,” NASA said in a statement. “It surrounds this stellar ash every 34 hours, more than 60 times faster than Mercury orbiting our sun.”

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A paper on the discovery was published in the journal Nature.

In this illustration, WD 1856 b, a potential Jupiter-sized planet, orbits its much smaller host star, a faint white dwarf.

In this illustration, WD 1856 b, a potential Jupiter-sized planet, orbits its much smaller host star, a faint white dwarf.
(Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

“WD 1856 b somehow got very close to its white dwarf and managed to stay whole,” Andrew Vanderburg, who was a NASA Sagan Fellow at UT Austin while completing the research, said in a statement. now an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “The process of creating the white dwarf destroys nearby planets and anything that gets too close afterwards is usually torn apart by the star’s immense gravity. We still have many questions about how WD 1856 b got to its current location without encountering it. one of those destinies. “

WD 1856 + 534 is described as 40% larger than the Earth.

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“We have known for a long time that after the birth of white dwarfs, small distant objects such as asteroids and comets can disperse inward towards these stars. They are usually separated by the strong gravity of a white dwarf and turn into a disk of debris.” Co-author Siyi Xu, an assistant astronomer at the Gemini International Observatory in Hilo, Hawaii, said in the statement. “That’s why I was so excited when Andrew told me about this system. We’ve seen clues that planets may also disperse inward, but this appears to be the first time we’ve seen a planet that made the entire journey intact.”

Experts from UT Austin and Caltech also participated in the work.

NASA’s wealth of space hardware continues to shed new light on distant stars. In a separate project, scientists recently used data from NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope to discover a “vampire” star that “sucks” life from another star.

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Experts have discovered a surprising “super explosion” from a dwarf nova, a type of “cataclysmic variable star”. According to NASA, the star system, consisting of a white dwarf and its much smaller brown dwarf companion, was seen to light up by a factor of 1,600 in less than a day. Then it slowly faded away.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers




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