Wednesday, October 20, 2021

A giant, hot planet may orbit the star Vega

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Astronomers have discovered new evidence of a giant, burning planet orbiting Vega, one of the brightest stars in the night sky.

The research, published this month in The Astrophysical Journal, was conducted by Spencer Hurt, a student at the University of Colorado at Boulder, an undergraduate student in the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences.

It focuses on an iconic and relatively young star, Vega, which is part of the constellation Lyra and has twice the mass of our own sun. This celestial body is only 25 light years, or about 150 trillion miles, from Earth – quite close, astronomically speaking.

Scientists can also see Vega with telescopes even when the light is off, making it a prime candidate for research, study co-author Samuel Quinn said.

“It’s bright enough that you can observe it at dusk when other stars are swept away by sunlight,” said Quinn, an astronomer at the Harvard and Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).

Despite the star’s fame, researchers have yet to find a single planet orbiting Vega. That could be about to change: Drawing on a decade of field observations, Hurt, Quinn and their colleagues have unearthed a curious signal …

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