A team of international astronomers has made an outstanding discovery that could change what we know about astronomy. The team has spotted a potential exoplanet that orbits a white dwarf, and previous research suggests that something like this would be impossible.
The planet candidate completes a full orbit once every 1.4 days. Since the planet creates an eclipse as it passes in front of WD 1855+534, a trait that suggests that it is an integral exoplanet. It is also as large as Jupiter.
Death of a star
The importance of the discovery stems from the fact that the planet goes against many principles that are related to planet formation. Stars, which are similar to the Sun, consume hydrogen fuel in a nuclear fusion reaction, releasing energy that keeps other planets warm. However, when the star runs out of fuel, some consequences will surface.
At first, the star will swell and become much bigger than it was. Once there is no more hydrogen, the Sun will start to consume helium, losing mass at a fast pace until the outer layers disappear and the core of the star remains exposed.
One of the main traits of the core is represented by a powerful gravitational pull that attracts objects towards it, destroying them in the process. However, the planet observed by the team with the help of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and the Spitzer Space Telescope appears to be intact.
If the information is accurate, it will set a major precedent. It is theorized that the exoplanet may be getting help from two other stars that orbit the white dwarf from a generous distance. The distant stars may have enough influence the keep the planet safe. More planets like this could be found across the universe, offering a potential home for life.
An in-depth paper has been published in a scientific journal.