Giant ringed planet likely cause of mysterious stellar eclipses

May 31, 2017, University of Warwick
Credit: University of Warwick

A giant gas planet – up to fifty times the mass of Jupiter, encircled by a ring of dust – is likely hurtling around a star more than a thousand light years away from Earth, according to new research by an international team of astronomers, led by the University of Warwick.

Hugh Osborn, a researcher from Warwick's Astrophysics Group, has identified that the from this rare young star is regularly blocked by a large object – and predicts that these eclipses are caused by the orbit of this as-yet undiscovered planet.

Using data from the Wide Angle Search for Planets (WASP) and Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope (KELT), Osborn and fellow researchers from Harvard University, Vanderbilt University, and Leiden Observatory analysed fifteen years of the star's activity.

"We found a hint that this was an interesting object in data from the WASP survey," said Hugh Osborn, lead author, who discovered the unusual light curve, "but it wasn't until we found a second, almost identical eclipse in the KELT survey data that we knew we had something special."

They discovered that every two and a half years, the light from this distant star - PDS 110 in the Orion constellation, which is same temperature and slightly larger than our sun - is reduced to thirty percent for about two to three weeks. Two notable eclipses observed were in November 2008 and January 2011.

"What's exciting is that during both eclipses we see the light from the star change rapidly, and that suggests that there are rings in the eclipsing object, but these rings are many times larger than the rings around Saturn," says Leiden astronomer Matthew Kenworthy.

Assuming the dips in starlight are coming from an orbiting planet, the next eclipse is predicted to take place in September this year – and the star is bright enough that amateur astronomers all over the world will be able to witness it and gather new data. Only then will we be certain what is causing the mysterious eclipses.

If confirmed in September, PDS 110 will be the first giant system that has a known orbital period.

"September's will let us study the intricate structure around PDS 110 in detail for the first time, and hopefully prove that what we are seeing is a giant exoplanet and its moons in the process of formation," comments Hugh Oborn.

The researchers suggest that there are moons could be forming in the habitable zone around PDS 110 – pointing to the possibility that life could thrive in this system.

The eclipses can also be used to discover the conditions for forming and their moons at an early time in the life of a star, providing a unique insight into forming processes that happened in our solar system.

The research, 'Periodic Eclipses of the Young Star PDS 110 Discovered with WASP and KELT Photometry', is due to be published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Explore further: 'Hot Jupiter' transiting a rapidly-rotating star discovered

More information: H. P. Osborn et al. Periodic Eclipses of the Young Star PDS 110 Discovered with WASP and KELT Photometry, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (2017). DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stx1249

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FredJose
1.2 / 5 (18) May 31, 2017
The researchers suggest that there are moons could be forming in the habitable zone around PDS 110 – pointing to the possibility that life could thrive in this system.
The eclipses can also be used to discover the conditions for forming planets and their moons at an early time in the life of a star, providing a unique insight into forming processes that happened in our solar system.


This all in support of the idea that there is no creator, contrary to the present, visible and verifiable evidence that points exactly to Him. Life just did not erupt spontaneously from pond scum or what-have-you via random chemical and other physical processes all by itself. Nor did stars and planets form out of clouds of gas or dust all by themselves either.
Enthusiastic Fool
3.5 / 5 (4) May 31, 2017
I wonder if the star facing side of the rings would radiate enough heat to be seen on the far side of its orbit before passing behind the star. It's a big disc absorbing or reflecting a ton of stellar energy right? Depending on the tilt of the system the disc might be observable throughout its orbit. I thinking of those pictures where the central object is masked out to avoid glare and see smaller/higher magnitude objects.
JongDan
3.7 / 5 (6) May 31, 2017
The researchers suggest that there are moons could be forming in the habitable zone around PDS 110 – pointing to the possibility that life could thrive in this system.
The eclipses can also be used to discover the conditions for forming planets and their moons at an early time in the life of a star, providing a unique insight into forming processes that happened in our solar system.


This all in support of the idea that there is no creator, contrary to the present, visible and verifiable evidence that points exactly to Him. Life just did not erupt spontaneously from pond scum or what-have-you via random chemical and other physical processes all by itself. Nor did stars and planets form out of clouds of gas or dust all by themselves either.

Face it, God doesn't give a fuck about us and created us via random number generator in His simulation He runs for fun.
ThomasQuinn
4.7 / 5 (3) May 31, 2017
Maybe I'm getting the physics wrong here, but wouldn't a gas giant with ~50x the mass of Jupiter be getting very close to triggering stellar ignition in its core?
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (6) May 31, 2017
50 times the mass of Jupiter is still well below the size where fusion can be sustained.
Brown dwarfs are about double that and stars which can sustain fusion (red dwarfs) are again 100 times more massive than brown dwarfs...and even then the luminosity of these is so low that they'd barely show up (although it would show up as a brightening rather than as dip in luminosity - so the distinction between a red dwarf and a Jupiter type object with rings can be made).
Mark Thomas
5 / 5 (5) May 31, 2017
"a gas giant with ~50x the mass of Jupiter"

That is a brown dwarf, not a planet.

Any such stellar object between 13 and roughly 75-90 Jupiter masses (depending on "purity" of hydrogen) is in the brown dwarf category. A key difference between a brown dwarf and a gas giant is a relatively brief period of non-hydrogen fusion. Once such an object reaches 13 Jupiter masses, deuterium fusion takes place. At ~ 60 Jupiter masses, lithium fusion takes place. When a ~50 Jupiter mass object is relatively young, it may shine like a small star, e.g., the first confirmed brown dwarf discovered, Teide 1, is about 57 Jupiter masses and is ~2600 K.
ThomasQuinn
4.5 / 5 (2) May 31, 2017
Ah, thank you, that was very enlightening. I seem to be off by a couple of orders of magnitude with regards to sustained fusion in a star's core. I had not thought of brown dwarfs, but it seemed clear that such a massive object couldn't simply be classified as a planet. Still, looking further on the web, it seems that estimates for this 'planet' range from under 2 to over 70 Jupiter masses, but I guess that at about a thousands light year's distance that is a fairly justifiable margin.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (3) May 31, 2017
This all in support of the idea that there is no creator, contrary to the present, visible and verifiable evidence that points exactly to Him. Life just did not erupt spontaneously from pond scum or what-have-you via random chemical and other physical processes all by itself. Nor did stars and planets form out of clouds of gas or dust all by themselves either
But up until very recently your church was insisting that the earth was the center of the universe, and did not wish to entertain any alternative theories.

"According to Wikipedia, the Roman Catholic Church via Cardinal Giovanni Mercati made a statement regarding Bruno's condemnation in 1942, saying that the condemnation was just."

-with extreme prejudice I might add. Because your book SAYS so.

So did your god rearrange things behind our backs, perhaps when everybody was whooping it up on VE day?

If so then he ought to edit his book which would seem to me to be easier than reconstructing the universe.
Parsec
5 / 5 (8) May 31, 2017
It never ceases to amaze me that people still come on science sites such as this one and attempt to disparage scientific research using religious arguments. Religion can answer questions of faith and belief, but the idea that someone can suggest that a theory or data is incorrect by appealing to some kind of higher authority instead of actual evidence is simply ludicrous.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (8) May 31, 2017
Religion can answer questions of faith and belief

I would say it can't even do that. Actually answering stuff would mean you can test the answer and see if it works. All religion makes is untestable statements and it's up to anyone to just accept it or not.

That's not 'answering questions'. That's just pandering to the listener's prejudices in the hopes.it will bind them to the religion.

...pretty much the same approach populist politicians use.
Solon
2 / 5 (4) May 31, 2017
"Actually answering stuff would mean you can test the answer and see if it works. All religion makes is untestable statements and it's up to anyone to just accept it or not."

That Black Holes exist is an untestable statement isn't it? I must accept or not what the Church of Mainstream Science preaches.

setnom
5 / 5 (4) Jun 01, 2017
That Black Holes exist is an untestable statement isn't it? I must accept or not what the Church of Mainstream Science preaches.


So what is your reason for the motion of these stars? https://www.youtu...ggKHvfGw (not a simulation, this is real)
Guy_Underbridge
5 / 5 (3) Jun 01, 2017
This all in support of the idea that there is no creator, contrary to the present, visible and verifiable evidence that points exactly to Him

Lacking the ability for critical autonomous thinking must be a real b!itch, eh Freddo?
antialias_physorg
4.3 / 5 (6) Jun 01, 2017
That Black Holes exist is an untestable statement isn't it?

Black holes are testable. The theory makes predictions and you can check whether they hold true (gravitational waves from black hole mergers - which have been detected - are one of those predictions). Currently efforts are under way to image the event horizon of the black hole at the center of our galaxy. Scientists are putting their instruments where their mouths are.

The really cool thing that most people forget is: Scientists *don't care* if they're wrong - because if they find something that is surprisingly different from what theory dictates then this means there's exciting new theories to work on. Being right all the time would actually be pretty boring - and would defeat the entire motivation why people go into science in the first place.

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