- Astronomers have used the Next-Generation Transit Survey telescope in the Atacama Desert of Chile to identify an exoplanet in the Neptunian Desert. The exoplanet has been described in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
- The newly discovered planet is formally known as NGTS-4b but has been nicknamed “The Forbidden Planet”
- The “Forbidden Planet” orbits a star called NGTS-4, which is located about 920 light-years away from Earth. The planet circles its star once every 1.3 Earth-days. It’s the first time a Neptune-like planet has been found so close to its star.
- It has a radius 20 per cent smaller than Neptune, and temperature of 1000 degrees Celsius. It is about 20 times the mass and 3 times the radius of Earth. It also retains an atmosphere of gas. The fact that it has an atmosphere has surprised researchers as it has been believed that gaseous planets couldn’t survive in Neptunian deserts
- The Neptunian Desert is broadly defined as the region close to stars where no Neptune-sized exoplanets are found. These area receive strong irradiation from the star. Therefore, the planets do not retain their gaseous atmosphere as they evaporate leaving just a rocky core.
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