Astronomers have reported the first indirect evidence of a giant planet orbiting a white dwarf star (WDJ0914+1914).
White dwarf Planet:
- It is, as the name implies, small, typically only slightly bigger than Earth.
- This planet is thought to be at least twice as big as its star.
- It orbits its star in only about 10 Earth-day.
Key points of the Finding:
- The researchers used the Slogan Digital Sky Survey to peer at 7,000 white dwarf stars before finding one – WDJ0914+1914 – that showed evidence of harboring a giant planet.
The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS)
- It is one of the largest, most detailed, and most often cited astronomical surveys that has ever existed, with the goal of expanding our understanding of the large-scale evolution and structure of the universe, the formation of stars and galaxies, the history of the Milky Way, and the science behind dark energy.
- This white dwarf is 1500 light-years away in the direction of the constellation Cancer the Crab.
- The Neptune-like planet orbits the white dwarf every ten days, and cannot be seen directly.
- The evidence is in the form of a disc of gas (hydrogen, oxygen and sulphur) formed from its evaporating atmosphere.
- The White Dwarf Planet is evaporating (Reason: although the white dwarf is very small, it is still extremely hot, about 50,432 degrees Fahrenheit (28,000 degrees Celsius)).
- Spikes of gas were detected by the Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory in Chile.
- The study suggests there could be many more planets around such white dwarf stars waiting to be discovered.
Significance of the Discovery:
- Only smaller objects such as asteroids had been detected so far around the white dwarf stars.
- This is the first evidence of an actual planet in such a system.