Due to COVID - 19 Pandemic, our offices are closed. We are all working from our respective homes and all our services are available online. Call/Email/Whastapp us for anything and everything. Stay at home, and Stay safe.
Go back

The case of the vanishing exoplanet

In 2008, astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope announced the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting the star Fomalhaut a scant 25 light years away. First seen in 2004 and again in 2006, the presumed planet – Fomalhaut b – was brighter than would normally be expected and appeared to be following an unusual trajectory just inside a vast cloud of icy debris orbiting the star. Then, in 2014, astronomers were stunned to find Fomalhaut b had disappeared. A search through archived data revealed it had slowly faded from view over several years. Astronomers now think Fomalhaut b was never a fully evolved planet in the first place. Instead, the data suggest the bright object Hubble originally spotted was, in fact, a huge cloud of expanding dust in the aftermath of a collision between two asteroid-size bodies. Gáspár, George Rieke of the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory and a team of collaborators believe the apparent collision occurred shortly before the first images of Fomalhaut b were collected in 2004. By 2014, the object had disappeared from view after fading over several years. Along with its slow fading, Fomalhaut b is likely on an escape trajectory, not in a planet-like elliptical orbit, a natural result of the host star’s influence on a massive, expanding dust cloud.

View link