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Scientists left baffled by planet that is too big to exist

Scientists left baffled by planet that is too big to exist

The recent discovery has put into question what scientists previously believed about planets and their solar systems.

While advancements in technology may have provided us with many more answers in recent years, scientists still get stumped by some things.

None more so than a planet that is, in fact, too big to exist - subsequently leaving the experts pretty baffled.

The discovery of the planet that scientists say is far too big for its sun is calling into question what we all previously thought about the formation of planets and their solar systems - plus subsequent models drawn up by experts.

The findings by Penn State researchers, which were published in the journal Science on 30 November, state that a planet more than 13 times as massive as Earth has been discovered.

This planet is said to be orbiting the 'ultracool' star LHS 3154, which in itself is nine times less massive than the sun.

A press release states that the mass ratio between the planet and the dwarf star is 100 times greater than the same ratio Earth has with its Sun.

A rendering of the view from LHS 3154b.
Penn State / Penn State. Creative Commons

Scientists didn't think such a scenario was possible until they saw it with their own eyes recently.

However, these latest findings reveals the "most massive known planet in a close orbit around an ultracool dwarf star, the least massive and coldest stars in the universe," according to the press release.

Suvrath Mahadevan, the Verne M. Willaman Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Penn State and also a co-author on the study, said: "This discovery really drives home the point of just how little we know about the universe. We wouldn’t expect a planet this heavy around such a low-mass star to exist."

He went on to say that stars are formed from large clouds of gas and dust.

Following that, the gas and dust remain as disks of material the recently formed star, something that can later develop into planets.

"The planet-forming disk around the low-mass star LHS 3154 is not expected to have enough solid mass to make this planet,” Mahadevan said.

The latest research is putting into question our knowledge around the solar system.
Getty Stock Photo

"But it’s out there, so now we need to reexamine our understanding of how planets and stars form."

The expert added: "Think about it like the star is a campfire. The more the fire cools down, the closer you’ll need to get to that fire to stay warm.

"The same is true for planets. If the star is colder, then a planet will need to be closer to that star if it is going to be warm enough to contain liquid water.

"If a planet has a close enough orbit to its ultracool star, we can detect it by seeing a very subtle change in the color of the star’s spectra or light as it is tugged on by an orbiting planet."

Featured Image Credit: Tobias Roetsch/Future Publishing via Getty Images / Javier Zayas Photography/Getty

Topics: Science, Space