Discovery of Hot-Jupiter NGTS-1b Challenges Planet Formation Theories

Artist's impression of sunrise on planet NGTS-1b

These theories suggest that the small stars can gather a sufficient amount of substance for the formation of small rocky planets, but they don't have enough forces to have formed around them gas giants.

Unlike Jupiter however, this planet is very close to its host star - just 3% of the distance between Earth and the Sun. That host star is an M dwarf, a type of red dwarf star that is small and cool compared to average stars like our sun.

The discovery of a "monster" planet which is way bigger than its star has rocked the foundations of astronomical theories.

"NGTS-1b was hard to find, despite being a monster of a planet, because its parent star is small and faint", says Peter Wheatley, a professor at the University of Warwick who leads NGTS.

Astronomers at the University of Warwick describe the new star and planet in an article to be published by the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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Dr. Daniel Bayliss, an astronomer at the University of Warwick, and colleagues has discovered a giant gaseous planet orbiting a small M-dwarf star 600 light-years from Earth. The gaseous planet, which is named "NGTS-1b", also known as "hot Jupiter", as it is believed to have size as much as the Jupiter's size, is believed to be very hot because of its proximity to the sun and due to the hot gaseous atmosphere. It completes an orbit in just 2.6 Earth days. But pairings of big planets with small stars might be more common than previously thought, just because stars that small are hard to spot. The planet is NGTS-1b and, although it's a third larger than Jupiter, the Solar System's largest planet, it's a gas giant with 0.8 times the mass of Jupiter.

Using these data, they then tracked the planet's orbit and calculated the size, position and mass of NGTS-1b by measuring the radial velocity of the star.

The discovery was completely unexpected, Dr. Daniel Bayliss, an assistant professor in the astronomy and astrophysics group at England's University of Warwick and a leader of the worldwide team of astronomers who made the discovery, said in a written statement. In other words, a year on NGTS-1b lasts less than three days. M-Dwarf stars are among the most common types of stars in the universe. This is the first exoplanet we have found with our new NGTS facility, " Bayliss continued, "and we are already challenging the received wisdom of how planets form".

Professor Peter Wheatley leads NGTS, and was pleased to see these exciting results: "Having worked for nearly a decade to develop the NGTS telescope array, it is thrilling to see it picking out new and unexpected types of planets".

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