An international team of astronomers managed to make one of the most unexpected discoveries they could have expected. The object of the discovery is a gas giant planet, and probably the biggest cosmic body in the universe in comparison with the star which governs it. They called this planet NGTS-1b.
The gas giant orbits an incredibly small star
The unusual planet is situated 600 light-years away from Earth, and was found orbiting a dwarf star, measuring about half the size of our Sun. This wouldn’t normally sound so unusual, but the planet has something special. It is a gas giant similar to Jupiter, and researchers wouldn’t have believed that a planet so big can orbit a star so small.
The theories of planet formation claim that even small stars can gather enough material to create rocky planets. However, it was apparently impossible for them to be able to put together a planet close to the size of Jupiter. NGTS-1b is, indeed, as big as our gas giant, but has less mass than it. It is situated really close to the dwarf star, namely at 3 percent the distance between Earth and the Sun, and performs a complete orbit around it in 2.6 days.
This type of dwarf star is quite common in the universe, so there might be other similar planets as well
All the researchers who were involved in the study declared themselves completely surprised of the discovery. This was the first exoplanet spotted with the help of the NGTS observing facility, and had already made them question all the theories they had regarding planet formation.
Now, the next thing they want to do is find out if there are more planets similar to the recently discovered gas giant, and how typical is them to form around such small stars. NGTS-1b’s star is a red M-dwarf, which is the most common in the universe. Therefore, similar planets must be hiding out there.