An exoplanet smaller than Neptune with its own atmosphere has been discovered in the Neptunian Desert around its star by an international collaboration of astronomers, with the University of Warwick taking a leading role.
Technically known as NGTS-4b, also nick-named ‘The Forbidden Planet’ by researchers, is three times the size of Earth and twenty percent smaller than Neptune. It is hotter than Mercury with a temperature of 1,832 degrees Fahrenheit. The planet has its own atmosphere. It orbits around the star in only 1.3 days which is equivalent of Earth’s orbit around the sun of one year.
It is the first exoplanet of its kind to have been found in the Neptunian Desert.
An international team of astronomers Dr. Richard West including Professor Peter Wheatley, Dr. Daniel Bayliss and Dr. James McCormac from the Astronomy and Astrophysics Group at the University of Warwick, has identified a rogue planet.
The astronomers said that the Neptunian Desert is the region close to stars where no Neptune-sized planets are found. Planets in this area do not retain their gaseous atmosphere and evaporate leaving just a rocky core because of the strong irradiation from the star.
Astronomers believe that either the planet moved into this region within the last million years, or the planet itself was once bigger and the atmosphere is in the process of evaporating evaporating.
This has sparked a new search for more planets and missions like NASA’s planet-hunter TESS could further explore the region.