Discovery of a celestial body similar to Neptune in a multi-star system

▲ An artistic recreation of TOI 4633c, named Percival in homage to the book character Harry Potter.Photo by Ed Bell for the Simons Foundation

European press

La Jornada newspaper
Tuesday, May 7, 2024, p. 5

Madrid. Astronomers have discovered the brightest star known in a binary system hosting a transiting planet in the habitable zone where liquid water could exist.

Planet hunters observed the Neptune-like celestial body as it crossed in front of its host star, causing its light to temporarily dim in a manner similar to a solar eclipse on Earth. this Transit method It generally identifies planets with tight orbits, since they are more likely to follow paths that put them between Earth and their host star, and when they do, they often move toward positions that block the light. That’s why this newly discovered planet is so unusually distant: it takes 272 days to orbit its star.

Follow-up observations of the system revealed more distinctive characteristics. The star is also orbited by another as-yet-unconfirmed planet and, perhaps more interestingly, another star. This unique system provides valuable data for scientists trying to understand how planets form and remain in stable orbits in multi-star systems. The researchers published their findings in Astrophysical Journal.


Finding planets in multi-star systems is crucial to our understanding of how these different objects are created from the same material.The study’s lead author, Nora Eisner, a researcher at the Center for Computational Astrophysics at the Flatiron Institute in New York, said in a statement.

Star systems and planets form when clouds of gas and dust begin to clump together. When one star forms alongside another, the pair can form a binary star system. Since planets are half as likely to form in a binary star system as in a single-star system, Eisner argues It’s very exciting that we found this..

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Data collected from he-goat

The newly discovered planet, officially named TOI 4633 c, but nicknamed Percival (after a character in the book series) Harry Potter) It was first identified by experts by citizen scientists who examined data collected by the satellite to study transiting exoplanets (he-goat) From NASA.

Planet hunters program he-goat It allows anyone with a computer connected to the Internet to search for undiscovered planets in satellite data.

Citizen scientists help astronomers sort through massive data sets, which are too large for researchers to analyze on their own. To date, the project has allowed more than 43,000 volunteers from 90 countries to help catalog about 25 million objects. These are of particular interest in finding exoplanets in long orbits, since these objects are difficult to identify on computers.

The human brain has a truly amazing ability to recognize patterns and filter out noise.says Eisner, Planet Hunters’ principal researcher he-goat.

TOI 4633 c does not have a solid surface and the atmosphere is likely filled with water vapor, hydrogen and methane. If this planet had a moon, it would likely have a solid surface, which would be a great place to find waterEisner concluded.

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