Scientists from the University of California, Riverside have discovered a giant exoplanet 1,300 light years away from Earth. It is about five times more massive than Jupiter, reports Astronomical Journal.
The planet has been named GOT ‘EM-1b. Star Kepler-1514, around which it rotates, NASA telescope Kepler has studied in 2010. Back then, astronomers noticed that the luminary periodically flashes and goes out, as if some object passes in front of it. But it took years to convincingly prove the presence of planets.
The new exoplanet surprised scientists not only by its size, but also by its considerable distance from its host star. It makes a complete circle in 218 Earth days, an order of magnitude more than most known giant exoplanets.
“Of the thousands of planets discovered by Kepler, only a few dozen had orbits of 200 days or more,” astronomer Paul Dalba noted.
Scientists stressed that by investigating GOT ‘EM-1b and similar giant planets, more can be learned about our solar system. Jupiter and Saturn are also far away from the star, and it remains unknown why this is the case. Most other planetary systems look very different.
“This planet is like a stepping stone between the giant planets in our own solar system, which are very far from our sun, and other gas giants that are much closer to their stars,” Dalba noted.
The discovery of a giant planet that has not moved closer to its star over time and can be considered analogous to the gas giants of the solar system will help scientists learn how our system is “normal in its stability and development.”