Story at a glance
- Astronomers discovered a planet orbiting a star pair roughly six times the size of the Earth’s sun.
- The stars were previously thought to be too hot for a planet to exist near.
- The discovery is changing what scientists know about planet formation.
Scientists recently discovered a planet roughly 10 times the size of Jupitor orbiting around two stars previously thought to be too hot for a planet to exist around.
According to an article published in the scientific journal Nature on Wednesday, the discovery of the planet, dubbed “b Centauri (AB)b” or “b Centauri b,” challenges existing ideas of how stars form.
“Until now, no planets had been spotted around a star more than three times as massive as the Sun,” wrote the European Southern Observatory, which used its Very Large Telescope in Chile to photograph the planet.
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“It completely changes the picture about massive stars as planet hosts,” said the study’s leader, Markus Janson, a professor of astronomy at Stockholm University, according to NBC News.
The massive exoplanet, meaning its located outside of our solar system, was photographed orbiting b Centauri, a pair of stars 325 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Centaurus, according to CNN, and is the hottest and largest planet-hosting binary system astronomers have ever found.
The b Centauri system is 15 million years old, young compared to the Earth’s sun which is 4.6 billion years old, and is at least six times as big and three times as hot, according to the outlet.
“We have always had a very solar system centric view of what planetary systems are ‘supposed’ to look like,” said an author of the study Matthias Samland, a post-doctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, in a statement according to CNN. “Over the last ten years, the discovery of many planetary systems in surprising and novel configurations has made us widen our historically narrow view. This discovery adds another exciting chapter to this story, this time for massive stars.”
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