Astronomers discovered the planet in the inhabited area of the white dwarf

Astronomers discovered the planet in the inhabited area of the white dwarf

Researchers at the University College of London found several bodies the size of the Moon orbiting the star WD1054-226, a white dwarf in our galaxy 117 light years from Earth. Using a transit method, they observed that these orbital bodies showed a very high degree of regularity of motion. They believed that this particularly accurate orbital pattern could be linked to the presence of the nearby planet in the inhabited area of the star.

When stars with several solar masses run out of hydrogen, they expand and become red giants; then gradually cool down and turn into a white dwarf like WD1054-226. More massive stars evolve into supernovas. Our sun will also become a white dwarf in four to five billion years.

After studying WD1054-226 using the European Southern Observatory's new technology telescope, a team from the University of California noticed something unusual. A few small planetary bodies orbiting the star every 23 minutes. This pattern shows that the planet's presence keeps them in a precise position because of their gravity. " says Professor Jay Farhihi, an astrophysicist from the University of California and the lead author of the study, which reports the discovery. However, the team says that further evidence is needed to confirm this hypothesis.

This is the first time scientists have seen a planet in a inhabited area of a white dwarf, only a gas giant the size of Jupiter has ever been seen in orbit of another white dwarf, WD 1856+534.

Small bodies orbiting WD1054-226 have the size of the Moon, the wrong shape, and the dust. Thus, without close planetary influence, friction and collision between these bodies would probably cause them to disintegrate. However, the transit method — which indirectly determines the planet's presence by periodically changing the brightness of the star that it causes in front of it — has shown that the light WD1054-226 has always been relatively darkened by the huge clouds of material passing in front of it, suggesting that it is surrounded by a ring of planetary debris.

These objects had a period of 25 hours. The data revealed at least 65 clouds of planetary debris that were evenly distributed around the star, which reduced its brightness every 23 minutes. So far, scientists can't explain why this transit seems so regular. The presence of a nearby planet in an area of habitat — where water can remain in a liquid state — can be one of the possible causes. Indeed, this phenomenon is already occurring around Neptune and Saturn, whose satellites are sufficient to maintain stable ring structures around these planets because of the gravity they bring.

If this planet really exists, it's relatively young. Researchers explain that during the red giant phase, a star must have absorbed all objects in its close orbit. "", concluded researchers, adding that this hypothetical planet could live another billion years.

The most massive stars end up as supernovas, and then they become black holes or neutron stars, but more than 95% of all stars, including the sun, eventually turn into white dwarfs.

But these white dwarfs are eight times smaller than their original size.

"," they say. This planet is very close to its star, but the star, because it dies, has relatively less heat, which brings it closer to the habitat, so researchers have identified a world that could potentially be the refuge of some form of life, which is still of great interest to the whole astrophysics community, but these first observations need to be confirmed. "" the team says.