Saturday, September 18, 2021
Contact us    |    Advertise    |   Help    |   Cookie Policy    |   Privacy Policy    RSS icon Twitter icon Facebook icon
    Home  ·  News  ·  Forum  ·  Stories  ·  Image Gallery  ·  Columns  ·  Encyclopedia  ·  Videos
Find: in

Solving the mystery of the vanishing exoplanet

Posted on Tuesday, 21 April, 2020 | Comment icon 17 comments

Image Credit: NASA / ESA / Digitized Sky Survey 2 / Davide De Martin / Hubble
A relatively nearby extrasolar world discovered back in 2004 has since disappeared without a trace.
Situated 25 light years away, the planet Fomalhaut b was discovered quite unexpectedly by astronomer Paul Kalas and colleagues from the University of California, Berkeley.

The find was particularly unusual because Kalas had been able to directly observe it - something that happens only very rarely because extrasolar worlds are so much dimmer than the stars they orbit.

It soon became apparent that there was something very strange indeed about Fomalhaut b when the astronomers found that while they could observe it in visible light, they were unable to find the infrared signature typically associated with such a planet.

A few years later things became even weirder still when University of Arizona astronomer Andras Gaspar and colleague George Rieke determined that Fomalhaut b was getting dimmer over time.

By 2014 - ten years after it was originally discovered - the planet had disappeared entirely.
So where did it go ?

Now a new study has finally shed light on the mystery by suggesting that Fomalhaut b wasn't actually a planet at all - it was the lingering light left over from a collision between two large asteroids.

"Our modeling shows the observed characteristics agree with a model of an expanding dust cloud produced in a massive collision," said Gaspar.

According to Kalas, such collisions may only occur once every 100,000 years.

"Was I really the luckiest astronomer in the world when I pointed the Hubble Space Telescope at Fomalhaut back in 2004 ?" he said.

"If I had tried just a few years earlier or a few years later, I never would have discovered it."

Source: | Comments (17)

Tags: Extrasolar, Planet

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #8 Posted by Damien99 on 21 April, 2020, 13:47
So is the star still there?  and just the planet missing  i was led to the impression  Fomalhaut A and B are stars. Fomalhaut a and b are planets. (Well, b is apparently not a planet.) The article is about Fomalhaut b "disappearing" (not being a planet in the first place). Fomalhaut B is still there.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Cookie Monster on 21 April, 2020, 13:57
We cannot see the planets, their existence is inferred from the stars wobble and light dimming. The problem is the brightness of stars stops is directly see what is orbiting them. It might have 2 planets, it might have none, it might have 50, we are making an educated guess. As its an educated guess there will be mistakes.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Damien99 on 21 April, 2020, 13:59
Ok so the planet may have vanished but is the star still there 
Comment icon #11 Posted by Cookie Monster on 21 April, 2020, 14:04
Comment icon #12 Posted by Damien99 on 21 April, 2020, 14:14
Wierd , they are talking about a possible collision wonder how big the other object was to possibly destroy a Jupiter sized planet 
Comment icon #13 Posted by Cookie Monster on 21 April, 2020, 14:29
If its travelling fast then maybe something the size of the moon. I think its more likely that they have made a mistake.
Comment icon #14 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 21 April, 2020, 15:42
Of course the star is still there. There is nothing in the article to imply otherwise.  As I have already said, Fomalhaut a would not be a planet. Lower case "a" refers to the star(s). Planets are given a lower case letter in chronological order of discovery starting with "b".
Comment icon #15 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 21 April, 2020, 15:45
Not always true. Some exoplanets have been directly imaged. Whatever it was that was thought to be Fomalhaut by was discovered by being directly imaged.
Comment icon #16 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 21 April, 2020, 15:50
The article doesn't say a Jupiter sized planet was destroyed. It says that what was thought to be a Jupiter sized planet may actually have been a collision between  two objects around 125 miles across.  Please Damien ask questions about what the article actually says not what you imagine it says. 
Comment icon #17 Posted by Damien99 on 21 April, 2020, 15:58
My apologies they were talking about jupitorbsoze exoplanet

Please Login or Register to post a comment.

  On the forums
'Vladimir Putin' is a banned name in Sweden
A couple in Sweden have been officially banned from naming their newborn baby after the Russian leader.
2021 Ig Nobel Prize celebrates weird science
For the second year running, this traditional celebration of science's most peculiar projects took place online.
Ancient rock formation is split perfectly in two
The 4,000-year-old rock formation known as Al Naslaa is split so perfectly that it almost looks laser cut.
'Ghost' photographed next to Civil War hospital
The image, which was posted up on Reddit, shows what has been described as a 'demon-like ghost'.
Stories & Experiences
Mystery 'troll' captured on camera
4-24-2021 | Marsta, Sweden
My Grandfather's NDE
4-24-2021 | Oakland, California
The voice of something not human
11-17-2020 | Baldwin Hills, Los Angeles
Shadow figure demon ?
11-14-2020 | USA
Ghost following me
9-18-2020 | Iowa
Mysterious glowing cube
8-23-2020 | Alabama
Black blob in my room/bed
7-23-2020 | Powell,TN U.S.
Transparent levitating ball
7-14-2020 | Santa Rosa, California

         More stories | Send us your story
Featured Videos
Gallery icon 
NASA studies underwater 'white smoker' vents
Posted 4-17-2020 | 3 comments
Hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor can teach us about possible habitats on other worlds.
10 strange things about our solar system
Posted 3-17-2020 | 0 comments
A look at some of the most mysterious things about our solar system.
Lizzie - Scotland's other loch monster
Posted 3-8-2020 | 0 comments
Amelia Dimoldenberg investigates the Loch Ness Monster's neighbor.
Adam Savage and Spot
Posted 2-14-2020 | 5 comments
Adam Savage tests out Boston Dynamics' impressive Spot robot.
NASA 2020: Are you ready ?
Posted 1-1-2020 | 3 comments
A look at what's coming up in the world of spaceflight this year.
 View: More videos
Top   |  Home   |   Forum   |   News   |   Image Gallery   |  Columns   |   Encyclopedia   |   Videos   |   Polls
UM-X 10.712 (c) 2001-2021
Terms   |   Privacy Policy   |   Cookies   |   Advertise   |   Contact   |   Help/FAQ