Scientists have discovered a huge exoplanet that’s 13 times bigger than Jupiter – the biggest planet in our solar system.
The researchers, from the Sao Paulo Research Foundation, discovered the mysterious planet using NASA ’s Kepler Space Telescope.
Leonardo Andrade de Almeida, who led the study, said: “We succeeded in obtaining pretty solid evidence of the existence of a giant exoplanet with a mass almost 13 times that of Jupiter [the largest planet in the Solar System] in an evolved binary system. This is the first confirmation of an exoplanet in a system of this kind.”
The planet is part of a binary system called KIC 10544976, which has two stars, one of which is live and one that’s dead.
While the researchers are pretty sure the planet is there, how it formed remains unclear.
One theory is that it developed at the same time as the two stars billions of years ago, while another is that it formed out of the gas ejected during the death of one star.
The team now hopes to look at data from other telescopes to understand whether either of these theories are correct.
Mr Almeida added: “We’re probing 20 systems in which external bodies could show gravitational effects, such as KIC 10544976, and most are only observable from the southern hemisphere.
“The [Giant Magellan Telescope] will enable us to detect these objects directly and obtain important answers on the formation and evolution of these exotic environments, as well as the possibility of life there.”