Uranus like planet discovered in a binary star system 25000 light-years away

Oct 18, 2014 18:32 IST

Astronomers discovered a new planet that resembles Uranus of our solar system. It was discovered in a binary star system 25000 light-years away near the constellation Sagittarius.
The Astronomers led by Radek Poleski of Ohio State University revealed this in a paper published in The Astrophysical Journal on 13 October 2014.

This is the first time that a twin for ice-giant planets, Uranus and Neptune has been spotted. These two planets are mainly composed of hydrogen and helium and significant amounts of methane ice that helps them to appear blue.

Astronomers were not able to tell anything about composition of this planet due to their distance from Earth. But astronomers are considering it to be a Uranus analog because, the planet’s distance from its star suggests that it’s an ice giant and its orbit resembles to Uranus.

As per the report, the planet is four times as massive as Uranus, but it orbits the first star at almost exactly the same distance as Uranus orbits our Sun.

This discovered planet leads a turbulent existence as it orbits a 0.7 M star at ≈18 AU in a binary star system with the other star close enough to disturb the planet’s orbit.

The first star is about two thirds as massive as our Sun, and the second star is about one sixth as massive. The projected separation of the planet is only about three times smaller than that of the companion star, suggesting significant dynamical interactions.

How the planet was discovered?

The solar system was spotted due to a phenomenon called gravitational microlensing that happens when the gravity of a star focuses the light from a more distant star and magnifies it like a lens. The two separate microlensing events occurred in 2008 and 2010.

The 2008 event revealed the main star and suggested the presence of the planet, while the second event of 2010 confirmed the presence of the planet and also revealed the second star.

Both these observations were done at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile as part of the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE) with the help of the 1.3-metre Warsaw Telescope.

According to Andrew Gould, professor of astronomy at Ohio State University, this discovery would solve a mystery a about the origins of the ice giants in our solar system.

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Read more Current Affairs on: new planet , Uranus , Milky Way , binary star system , Warsaw Telescope

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