Saturday, November 20, 2010

new exoplanet enters our galaxy

The world woke up to quite an amazing discovery, one which could hold the answers to our future of our own solar system.

An artist's impression of the exoplanet.

Named “HIP 12044b”, the planet entered our galaxy by hitching a ride with a giant star named “HIP 13044”.The exoplanet is about 25 percent larger than Jupiter and is currently 2,000 lights years from earth in the southern constellation Fornax.

It is called an exoplanet because it lies outside our solar system, HIP 13044b probably originated in a dwarf galaxy swallowed by the Milky Way six to nine billion years ago, said the discovery's lead astronomer, Johny Setiawan of MPIA.

According to Setiawan "It is the first time that an exoplanet has been found around a star that originated beyond the Milky Way. And unlike our Sun, the planet's host star HIP 13044 has a very low metal content" -- which is contrary to accepted theories of planetary formation.

"Finally, the star has already passed the Red Giant phase," said Setiawan. "It was not expected that planets survived this violent phase."

The discovery was made at a very important phase in the planet's life. HIP 13044 shows all the signs of ending its life, this is where it turns into a “red giant” and expands hundreds of times it original radius. According to scientists, our own sun will turn into a Red Giant in 5 billion years time and when that happens it would have swallowed its inner planets, providing a hint of things to come for mother Earth.