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Record Breaking Exoplanet Found

By / 11.19.10

Artist’s rendering. Accuracy not guaranteed.

Astronomers at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany discovered an exoplanet with some unique properties.  It’s the first exoplanet discovered that formed in another galaxy, orbiting a star that used to be part of a dwarf galaxy cannibalized by the Milky Way six to nine billion years ago (The Milky Way is hardc0re like that). The planet, orbiting star “HIP 13044″, is named HIP 13044 b, which is totally boring so I’m calling it Lobsterdoggiter. It just feels right.  Lobsterdoggiter is now located 2000 light years away in the Helmi stream (that red circle loosely orbiting the Milky Way in the picture to the right).  In the sky it appears in the southern constellation Fornax, which I’m pretty sure is short for “Fornication to the max”.

Lobsterdoggiter’s mass is at least 1.25 times that of Jupiter and, strangely, its host star is low in many of the heavy elements usually believed necessary to create planets. In fact, if you add up all the elements heavier than hydrogen and helium in the star, it has only 1% the amount our Sun has.  This means the planet may have formed in a yet-unknown way, and the story gets stranger. The star is near the end of its life and was a red giant star at some point:

That means not only did this planet survive the red giant phase of its parent star, the star almost certainly engulfed the planet in the process. [...] And now, so many eons later, here is what we see: an aged giant star, orbited by a battered, cooked planet, part of a procession of other stars torn from their galaxy. [BadAstronomy]

Whoa. Literature.

[Sources: ESO, BadAstronomy, NewScientist]


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