Scientists believed that planets could not exist around giant and hot stars. However, an image taken by Exoplanet Research (SPHERE), a state-of-the-art high-contrast spectropolarimetric instrument under the European Southern Observatory (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT), however, challenges this theory. The device displayed a planet orbiting Centaur’s two-star system b (also known as HIP 71865). It is the hottest and strongest galaxy with planets (six times the mass of the Sun) found today. It is 325 light years away.
The planet b Centaur (AB) b (or b Centaur b) orbits a pair of stars at a distance of 100 times greater than that of Jupiter orbiting the Sun. Giant stars are very hot, and this system is no exception: its main spectral class B star is three times hotter than the Sun. It emits large amounts of ultraviolet and X-ray radiation. Large masses and heat exert a strong influence on the surrounding gas, preventing the formation of larger planets: as the star heats up, it releases more energy, resulting in faster evaporation of the surrounding matter.
However, a new discovery has shown that planets can form even in such a stellar galaxy. b Centaur b – 10 times more massive than Jupiter, one of the most powerful planets ever discovered. Moreover, it orbits the galaxy in one of the broadest orbits – at a distance 100 times greater than the distance from Jupiter to the Sun. This may be the key to the planet’s survival under aggressive conditions.
Thanks to ESO’s Ultra Large Telescope (ELT) launch at the end of this decade, and the VLT update, astronomers hope to learn more about the formation and features of the Centaurus B.
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