Joshua Blackman’s team at the University of Tasmania may have discovered the future of our solar system far out in space: There, about 6,500 light-years away from us, a Jupiter-like planet appears to be quietly orbiting a white dwarf. This star system has already gone through the best of times, because white dwarfs represent the last stage of the evolution of stars like our Sun, and are therefore burning stars. Blackman and colleagues interpret their finding as an indication that at least larger planets can survive the doom of their central star. Accompanying study Appears in the specialized magazine “Nature”..
In it, the researchers describe, strictly speaking, a lack of discovery. In fact, they were searching for a completely normal star at the Keck Observatory. Evidence of a Jupiter-like planet called MOA-2010-BLG-477Lb Restored in 2010 It was detected as a low mass gravitational lens. In such a gravitational lensing event, a celestial body – the lens – with a bright source passes behind it. If the lens is particularly massive, then amazing effects such as the Einstein Cross can be created, in which the source appears several times in the sky. On the other hand, lenses with a lower mass reveal themselves via the light curve of the source, which becomes brighter in a characteristic way, as in the present case.
The Jupiter-like planet is said to orbit a white dwarf
At first, the researchers assumed that the possible exoplanet MOA-2010-BLG-477Lb was orbiting a perfectly normal star – and they searched for it with the Keck II telescope in 2015, 2016 and 2018. Alone: the only powerful telescope could find such a star. Brown dwarfs, black holes or neutron stars could also be excluded as the central stars of a Jupiter-like planet – thus only a white dwarf remained as a candidate. They could not detect this either, but according to their calculations, a planet with a mass about one and a half times that of Jupiter revolves around a white dwarf, which has about half the mass of the Sun. The distance between the two celestial bodies is likely to be about three times the distance between the Earth and the Sun.
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