Scorching-hot planet candidate spotted around famous star Vega

Astronomers have spotted a attainable searing-hot planet orbiting Vega, one of many brightest and most famous stars within the sky.

The candidate alien planet, which nonetheless must be confirmed by follow-up observations or analyses, is roughly the scale of Neptune and lies very near Vega. It takes solely 2.5 Earth days for the purported planet to make a single orbit around its solar. 

Thanks to that proximity, the candidate planet’s floor temperature might be around 5,390 levels Fahrenheit (2,976 levels Celsius), researchers calculated. That would make it the second-hottest planet recognized, if it does certainly exist. (The hottest, KELT-9b, is a whopping 7,800 levels Fahrenheit, or 4,300 levels C.)

Related: The strangest alien planets (gallery)

Vega lies a mere 25 light-years from Earth and sits comparatively excessive within the northern sky, so follow-up research of this potential planetary system are an actual chance. Scientists will search to substantiate the Neptune-size world and likewise hunt for different attainable planets around the famous star, which is within the constellation Lyra.

“This is an enormous system, a lot bigger than our personal solar system,” Spencer Hurt, the lead creator of a brand new research asserting the Vega candidate planet, said in a statement

“There could possibly be different planets all through that system,” added Hurt, an undergraduate astronomy student at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “It’s only a matter of whether or not we will detect them.”

Team members spotted the candidate planet after looking at about 10 years of data collected by the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory in Arizona. They saw a slight wobble in the star’s motion, suggesting that an orbiting planet is tugging on it gravitationally.

Astronomers have been hunting for planets around Vega for many years. Back in 2013, astronomers announced evidence of a huge asteroid belt circling the star and expressed hope that the find may eventually lead the way to spotting planets. The discovery team added, however, that confirming planets may have to wait until after the launch of NASA’s powerful James Webb Space Telescope, which is scheduled to launch this October.

That said, Vega is so bright that professional telescopes can see the star in the sky even when it’s daylight, allowing for flexible observations. Hurt said he and his colleagues are hoping to find direct light emissions from the candidate planet in future studies, to confirm its existence. 

Vegan planets and aliens are a staple of science fiction through the ages, ranging from Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” series (which began in 1951) to the “Star Trek: The Original Series” episode “The Cage” (created in 1965 and first aired in 1988) to the movies or television shows “Spaceballs” (1987), “Contact” (1997) and “Babylon 5” (1993-98), among many others.

Vega’s appeal for science and science fiction is due in large part to its proximity to Earth. Twenty-five light-years is a small jaunt in cosmic terms, given that our Milky Way galaxy alone is roughly 100,000 light-years throughout. You can simply spot the star with the naked eye, and it rides excessive within the sky in the course of the summer season months of the northern hemisphere as a part of the Summer Triangle asterism.

The new research was published March 2 in The Astrophysical Journal.

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. 

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