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Newly discovered world … the nearest exoplanet filmed directly

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The closest exoplanet to Earth was found, called COCONUTS-2b, which is only 35 light-years away and orbiting the star COCONUTS-2.

It has been described as rare among exoplanet discoveries: a large, cold, relatively giant gas orbiting its star over large distances.

“COCONUTS-2, a large planet with a very wide interval orbit and a very cold central star, represents a completely different planetary system from our solar system,” said Gujian Ngang, an astronomical astronomer at the University of Hawaii.

The most common ways to locate an exoplanet depend on two possible effects of exoplanets on a host star: the transit method, which depends on the depth of change in the star’s light, and the orbit of the transit star in the form of an orbit when an exoplanet passes between us and its host.

(Zhang et al., Astronomy Journal Letters, 2021)

The method of radial velocity (or “oscillation”) depends on changes in the wavelength of the star’s light. When an exoplanet orbits a star, it exerts a small gravitational effect, which causes the star to move better. As it moves through a small circular motion, it deviates slightly as the wavelength of its light turns and moves away from us. Both methods can detect massive exoplanets close to the planet – massive, because the signal is large and easy to distinguish, and it will close as it orbits faster, meaning astronomers will receive multiple signals to ensure that it is from an orbiting object. The body is not a body that passes randomly.

However, the largest distance from its host star – approximately 6,471 AU, which is 6,471 times the average distance between Earth and the Sun – is shown in COCONUTS-2b direct images. At that distance, its orbital period is approximately 1.1 million years (this would be the record of a known exoplanet).

Michael Liu, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii, said: “It is very difficult to find and study light directly from the gas giant planets around other stars, because the planets we find usually have small separation orbits, so they are obscured by the brightness of their host star.”

COCONUTS-2b is still very young, only about 800 million years old; The remaining heat from the formation of the exoplanet is its warmth, trapped inside a large exoplanet, six times the mass of Jupiter. This heat means that the exoplanet fades at infrared wavelengths – which is enough to detect in direct images.

Large distances in orbit will bring other benefits to future research. This may help us to better understand how gas giants are formed, but we still do not fully understand this process – a closer look will help us to better understand the diversity of gas giants.

“Coconuts-2B will be an excellent laboratory for studying the atmosphere and the formation of a young gas giant planet, along with a large separation in orbit,” Liu said.

The research was published in a journal Letters from the Journal of Astronomy.

Source: Science Alert

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