Carnegie Institution Discovers Extraordinary Planetary System with Jupiter-Sized Gas Giant
A team of astronomers led by Shubham Kanodia of the Carnegie Institution for Science have discovered an extraordinary planetary system. This system includes a Jupiter-sized gas giant orbiting a small red dwarf star called TOI-5205. The findings, which were published in The Astronomical Journal, challenge the long-held beliefs about planet formation.
The most commonly accepted theory of gas planet formation requires about 10 Earth masses of rocky material in the disk to form the initial core, after which it rapidly sweeps up large amounts of gas from the neighboring regions of the disk. However, for TOI-5205b, the host star is so much smaller than the sun that it is more comparable to a pea going around a lemon. This makes the dimming of TOI-5205 by this Jupiter-sized exoplanet the largest known drop in light caused by an exoplanet transit.
The size of TOI 5205b makes it conducive for future observations with the recently launched James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Astronomers hope the space telescope will be able to provide even more insights into the planet’s atmosphere and offer additional clues about the mystery of its formation.
M dwarfs are smaller and cooler than the sun and are the most common stars in our Milky Way. They tend to be about half as hot as the Sun and much redder, with very low luminosities but extremely long lifespans. Red dwarfs, on average, host more planets than other, more massive types of stars; however, their formation histories make them unlikely to host gas giants.
The discovery of TOI-5205b has sparked hope and speculation that a giant ninth planet, which some scientists believe to be hiding in the dark fringes of our solar system, may be detected in the future. More telescopes will be developed over the next decade and new surveys of the sky will commence. They may just give us the opportunity to verify or refute the existence of this so-called Planet Nine.
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