Exoplanet with a ring 200 times the size of SaturnísCristina Cantor (Author) Published Date : Jan 28, 2015 06:50 IST
A planet with a ring system 200 times larger than Saturn has been discovered by astronomers and this is the first structure that goes beyond the Solar System.
Researchers believe that there are more than 30 of these rings with gaps in it suggesting that some of the material may already have coalesced to form moons along with measurements of tens of millions of kilometers in diameter.
Prof Eric Mamajek, from the University of Rochester in the US thinks that this planet is like a Super Saturn. The rings originated from data assembled by the SuperWASP observatory. Astronomers witnessed a complex sequence of deep eclipses lasting 56 days which may have been caused by the giant ringed planet blocking light as it passed in front of the star J1407.
Dr Matthew Kenworthy, from the University of Leiden, the Netherlands, told BBC News that the light-curve from one end to the other took around 2 months with rapid changed in the space of one night. He also said that in a span on 30 minutes the star can dim by 30% to 40%.
If Saturn has rings the size of J140b then they would have been larger than the full moon and be effortlessly visible from the Earth. Dr. Kenworthy also clarified that it is not a planet-forming disc since that would generate much smoother changes in the light curve of J1407. The lack of detection means that it has to be substellar and a planet is the only thing that could hold these rings.
It is believed by the team that J1407b is 10 to 40 times larger than Jupiter and may provide a glimpse of the course that led to the formation of the moons around planets like them.
According to Prof Mamajek, the community of planetary science had theories for decades that planets such as Jupiter and Saturn must have had disks around them which led to the formation of satellites although the astronomers found a gap in the structure of the ring which explains that a satellite formed and engraved out of this gap and the mass of that could be somewhere between Earth and Mars. The amateur astronomers are being encouraged to help monitor J1407 which will assist in detecting the next eclipse.
Exoplanet with a ring 200 times the size of Saturnís