LONDON: Mysterious radio signals coming from an unknown source 5.5 billion light years away have been observed live for the first time. The fast radio bursts last just a few milliseconds, and just seven of these bright flashes have been discovered before – the first was found in 2007. All were found retroactively by looking through old data from the Parkes radio telescope in eastern Australia and…
Images of a small fraction of the galaxies analyzed in the new study. The galaxies are ordered by total mass of stars (rising from bottom to top) and by ‘bulge to total stellar mass ratio’ (rising from left to right). Galaxies that appear redder have high values for both of these measurements, meaning that the mass of the bulge — and central black hole — determines their color. (Credit: A. Bluck)
A team of astronomers from the University of Anitoquia, Medellin, Colombia, have discovered a graveyard of comets. The researchers, led by Anitoquia astronomer Prof. Ignacio Ferrin, describe how some of these objects, inactive for millions of years, have returned to life leading them to name the…
“The General Assembly declares 4 to 10 October World Space Week to celebrate each year at the international level the contributions of space science and technology to the betterment of the human condition.” – UN General Assembly resolution, 6 December 1999.
The theme for this year’s World Space Week is “Space: Guiding your Way,” so we’ve selected some of our best articles about space from the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society to help you learn more. Read below for more on Saturn’s rings, Pluto’s region, and Barbarians in the asteroid family.
Image: Starburst in NGC 4449 (captured by the Hubble Space Telescope) by NASA, ESA, A. Aloisi (STScI/ESA), and The Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
An optical image of the “Tadpole” galaxy, an interacting galaxy, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. Material stripped from the galaxy during its collision with a smaller galaxy (seen in the upper left corner of the larger interaction partner) forms a long tidal tail. Young blue stars, star clusters and tidal dwarf galaxies are born in these tidal debris. These objects move in a common direction…
An international team of astronomers have reported the first scientific results from the Karoo Array Telescope (KAT-7) in South Africa, the pathfinder radio telescope for the $3 billion global Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project. The results appear in the latest issue of the…
An illustration of the orbital distances and relative sizes of the four innermost planets known to orbit the star 55 Cancri A (bottom) in comparison with planets in own inner solar system (top). Both Jupiter and the Jupiter-mass planet 55 Cancri “d” are outside this picture, orbiting their host star with a distance of nearly 5 astronomical units (AU), where one AU is equal to the average distance…
One trillion kilometers apart: A lonely planet and its distant star
A team of astronomers in the UK, USA and Australia have found a planet, until now thought to be a free floating or lonely planet, in a huge orbit around its star. Incredibly the object, designated as 2MASS J2126, is about 1 trillion (1 million million) kilometers from the star, or about 7000 times the distance from the Earth to the Sun. The researchers report the discovery in a paper in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
In the last five years a number of free floating planets have been found. These are gas giant worlds like Jupiter that lack the mass for the nuclear reactions that make stars shine, so cool and fade over time. Measuring the temperatures of these objects is relatively straightforward, but it depends on both mass and age. This means astronomers need to find out how old they are, before they can find out if they are lightweight enough to be planets or if they are heavier ‘failed stars’ known as brown dwarfs.
Largest ever solar system discovered: Planet 2MASS J2126-8140 orbits a star 1 trillion km away from it
The largest solar system ever recorded has been found, say astronomers. Scientists were studying a planet that they thought was just aimlessly wandering through space, but they discovered it is actually orbiting a host star roughly one trillion kilometres away from it.
The planet that the scientists were researching – known as 2MASS J2126-8140 – was first believed to not have a parent star, but scientists were surprised when they found it was orbiting a red dwarf star, which has been called TYC 9486-927-1. The distance between the planet and the star is 7,000 times longer than the Earth and the Sun, report the astronomers in the Monthly Notices of The Royal Astronomical Society.
The gap between the planet and star is so big that one full orbit takes the equivalent of almost a million years. That means that on average, one UK family would go through nearly 13,000 generations before 2MASS J2126-8140 completes a full orbit of TYC 9486-927-1.
The new solar system is almost three times larger than the previously known biggest distance between a planet and a host star.
Simon Murphy of the Australian National University said: “We were very surprised to find such a low-mass object so far from its parent star.”
The astronomers that discovered this solar system are from a group of international scientists that are studying young stars and brown dwarfs close to our own solar system. 2MASS J2126-8140, a gas giant roughly 15 times bigger than Jupiter, the biggest planet in our own solar system, was just one of thousands of young planets being studied.
It was soon discovered that both the lone planet, and its subsequent host star, were around the same distance away from Earth – about 100 million light years, or almost 6 octillion miles (this number carries 27 0’s). They then measured both of their movements, and the link was soon confirmed.
“We can speculate they formed 10 million to 45 million years ago from a filament of gas that pushed them together in the same direction,” said Murphy. “They must not have lived their lives in a very dense environment. They are so tenuously bound together that any nearby star would have disrupted their orbit completely.”