Our solar system is so incredibly diversified, and it stands out compared to most of the other systems. There’s a gas giant where the biggest storms occur, another gas giant that has beautiful rings surrounding it, and most of all: there’s intelligent life in our solar system. While nobody rules out the possibility for life to exist elsewhere in the Universe, it’s certain that we’ve encountered little green men only in movies, cartoons, and TV series.
But in the vast and endless cosmic ocean, astronomers frequently find objects that resemble those from our solar system very much. It happens now again with a ‘new Neptune’ found only about 32 light-years away from us, which by an astronomical point of view it practically means next-door.
AU Mic b is the name
AU Mic b is the new Neptune found, and it revolves around the AU Microscopii star once every 8.5 Earth days. The star is located within the Microscopium constellation, and it’s part of a collection of stars known as the Beta Pictoris moving group. AU Microcipii is a very young red dwarf, being ‘only’ 20 million to 30 million years old.
The scientists involved in the new study had been using data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). The newfound exoplanet is only about 8% bigger than Neptune.
Thomas Barclay, who is study coauthor and associate project scientist for TESS at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, declared:
We think AU Mic b formed far from the star and migrated inward to its current orbit, something that can happen as planets interact gravitationally with a gas disk or with other planets,
Furthermore, the scientist believes that the new discovery can provide new and valuable information about planet formation:
By contrast, Beta Pictoris b’s orbit doesn’t appear to have migrated much at all. The differences between these similarly aged systems can tell us a lot about how planets form and migrate.
The new study was published in the journal Nature.