The planet, known as MOA2010BLG477Lb, was discovered by a group of astronomers from Australia and New Zealand from an observatory in Hawaii – making this a truly international discovery
In the same week that Captain Kirk bravely went into space, astronomers actually found a new planet the size of Jupiter orbiting a dead star in the Milky Way.
With a name that rolls right on the tongue – MOA2010BLG477Lb – the planet was discovered by staff at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii, where a team from Australia and New Zealand are now taking a closer look at the system, according to The Daily Mail.
Called a “gas giant,” it apparently survived the death of its host star, but is about 6,500 light-years away.
The new planet is estimated to be 1.4 times the size of Jupiter and is two and a half times further from its star than Earth is from the sun.
And what makes it even more historical is that MOA2010BLG477Lb is the first world of its kind to be discovered, orbiting a white dwarf – a very dense star that often squeezes the sun’s mass into an Earth-like body.
He leads the search as astronomer Joshua Blackman.
His team found that the planet was forming at the same time as the host star, “and not from the debris left behind when the star stripped its outer layers,” he said.
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He added, “It is likely an analog of the terminal stages of the Sun and Jupiter in our own solar system.”
The results were published in the journal Nature.
Themiya Nanayakkara, an astronomer at Swinburne University of Technology who was not involved in the research, told The Guardian that the discovery suggests that “outer gas giant planets like Jupiter and Saturn could survive the death of the Sun”.
“It rules out theories from the past that say there can be no planets around white dwarfs,” said Nanayakkara.
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