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Jupiter-sized planet found orbiting low-mass star

An international team of scientists has made a fascinating discovery in the Corvus constellation. They found an unusual Jupiter-sized planet orbiting a low-mass star named TOI-4860. The gas giant, called TOI-4860 b, is extraordinary for two reasons: it's uncommon for stars of such low mass to host planets like Jupiter, and the planet itself appears to be enriched with heavy elements.

The researchers initially spotted the planet using NASA's Transiting Survey Satellite, but they needed more data to confirm its planetary nature. They utilized the SPECULOOS South Observatory in Chile to measure the planetary signal in different wavelengths and validated its existence. Additionally, they observed the planet before and after it passed behind its host star, noting no change in light emission, confirming it doesn't emit light.

Confirming the existence of the planet was the initiative of a group of Ph.D. students within the SPECULOOS project, which resulted in a groundbreaking discovery for planetary science. The star and its planet provided valuable insights into planet formation, as low-mass stars like TOI-4860 were not expected to host massive planets like Jupiter.

The gas giant, taking just 1.52 days to complete an orbit around its host star, falls into the category of “warm Jupiters.” This subclass of planets is of particular interest to astronomers studying their formation process and atmospheric properties.

The team has been granted telescope time at the Very Large Telescope in Chile, allowing them to continue their research and potentially confirm more planets with similar properties. The discovery of TOI-4860 b marks a significant milestone in deepening our understanding of exoplanets and the fascinating processes governing their formation.

Source: University of Birmingham


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