The planet dubbed NGTS-4b or the forbidden planet has a mass of 20 Earth masses, and a radius 20% smaller than Neptune and is 1000 degrees Celsius.
The hunt for exoplanets keeps throwing out surprises and the latest is a planet that simply shouldn't be where it is.
The exoplanet has been found in an area called the "Neptunian Desert", where no Neptune-sized planets are supposed to be able to survive due to the intense radiation. That is, the zone where such a world should be stripped of its gases and turned into a ball of rock. "It is truly remarkable that we found a transiting planet via a star dimming by less than 0.2%". It's a section located near stars that are void of any Neptune-sized planets. However, the NGTS telescopes, situated in the Atacama Desert, Chile, can pick up a dip of just 0.2 per cent.
This involves looking for "dips" in the light coming from a star, indicating that an orbiting planet has moved in front of it and blocked the light.
The search is now on to find other examples, hopefully leading to a much clearer view of the Neptunian Desert and the limitations of planet formation.
The South African Astronomical Observatory's 1.0m telescope provided crucial follow-up observations in new research published today by members of the Astronomy and Astrophysics Group at the University of Warwick, UK, detailing the discovery of an exoplanet in the so-called "Neptunian Desert". That's why it's been nicknamed the "forbidden" planet by researchers.
"We are now scouring our data to see if we can see any more planets in the Neptune Desert-perhaps the desert is greener than was once thought".
Dr Burliegh explained "Since this transit is so shallow, NGTS-4b wasn't initially one of our top priority targets".
A Neptunian planet has been found in what should be a "Neptunian Desert" by telescopes run by the University of Warwick in an worldwide collaboration of astronomers.
Note that this planet is the only (currently known) in the system NGTS stars-4, which is located at a distance of 921 light-years from the Sun in the constellation of the Dove. Instead, it's thought the atmospheres would just evaporate, leaving only a rocky core. With a dip nearly that small, this exoplanet is, by a long way, the shallowest transiting planet ever discovered by a ground-based survey (the transit is less than 0.2%).