Scientists have discovered a giant planet said to be 10 times the size of Jupiter orbiting a pair of massive stars.
Named "b Centauri (AB)b," or "b Centauri b," this exoplanet is one of the "most massive planets ever found," according to the European Southern Observatory, which was cited by NBC News. What makes the discovery even more unique is that it was found in an environment previously thought to be too inhospitable for a planet to form in.
"Until now, no planets had been spotted around a star more than three times as massive as the sun," the observatory wrote in a research article published Wednesday, according to NBC News.
The "B-type" dual star, which is extremely massive and hot, sits at the center of a solar system in the Centaurus constellation. It emits large amounts of high-energy ultraviolet and X-ray radiation, which the observatory explains has "a strong impact on the surrounding gas that should work against planet formation."
The study’s leader, Markus Janson, who is a professor of astronomy at Stockholm University, said that the discovery "completely changes the picture about massive stars as planet hosts."
"B-type stars are generally considered as quite destructive and dangerous environments, so it was believed that it should be exceedingly difficult to form large planets around them."
The observatory further noted that the planet's orbit is 100 times greater than the distance between Jupiter and the sun, making it "one of the widest yet discovered."
"This large distance from the central pair of stars could be key to the planet’s survival," it said.
Janson and his team now intend to expand on a survey which is examining 85 similar stars.
"We will be attempting to acquire more telescope time for an extended survey, and we are also scanning all the telescope archives after any individual high-mass stars that might have been observed in the past," Janson explained.
"I think in the field altogether there will be an increased search intensity toward high-mass stars, both for the purpose of detecting planets, but also for characterizing them, to find out what they are composed of and try to figure out more in detail how they might have formed," he added.
© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.