Astronomers found a planet the size of Neptune orbiting the star AU Mic, 32 light-years from Earth.
The red dwarf AU Mic, located in the constellation Microscopium, has long attracted the attention of scientists. The star is estimated to be 20-30 million years old, about 150 times younger than the Sun, surrounded by a disk of dust and gas - the remnants of star formation.
Graphic simulating red dwarf AU Mic. (Image: NASA)
Astronomers have been following the AU Mic for more than a decade to look for signs of exoplanets and finally reach their goal, as reported in the journal Nature on June 24.
Thanks to data from NASA's TESS and Spitzer space duo, a team led by assistant professor Peter Plavchan from George Mason University in the US has found a planet 8% larger than the planet. with Neptune in orbit around this red dwarf star.
The exoplanet, named AU Mic b , is about 58 times lighter than Earth. It is very close to the AU Mic star and it takes only 8.5 days to complete an orbit.
Graphic simulating exoplanet AU Mic b. (Photo: NASA).
"We think that AU Mic b formed far away from the host star and then moved into its current orbit, which can happen when the planet interacts with the gravitational pull of the dust disk around the star. " , said co-author Thomas Barclay, project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
In the next phase, Plavchan and his colleagues want to make more observations to learn about the planet's atmosphere and determine whether there is a second planet around the star.
Studying AU Mic will allow scientists to better understand the formation and evolution of young stars, as well as how they interact with planets in the system.