Astronomers find ‘Forbidden Planet’ they didn’t think could exist in mysterious part of solar system


Astronomers have found a world so unusual it has been dubbed the “Forbidden Planet”.

The strange world wasn’t thought to be able to exist and dwells in the mysterious part of solar systems called the “Neptunian Desert”, say researchers.

The world – officially known as NGTS-4b, but given its pet name by researchers surprised to find that it could exist – is 1,000 degrees Celsius and was spotted using the latest observing technologies. It is 20 per cent smaller than Neptune or about three times the size of the Earth.

The planet is so close to its star that it takes only 1.3 days to get around it.

It is the first time that any such planet has been found in this region, which was thought to be so empty that it was referred to as the “Neptunian Desert”.

The area got its name because it is the space in a solar system here no Neptune-sized planets are usually found. Because of the strong radiation coming from the star, planets are thought to lose any gaseous atmosphere, which evaporates off and leaves the smaller, rocky core behind.

But the mysterious “Forbidden Planet” seems to have retained its gaserous atmosphere, in a finding that surprised the researchers.


They believe that it could have found its way into that desert only relatively recently, in the last one million years. Or it might have begun very large and so is still evaporating.



“This planet must be tough – it is right in the zone where we expected Neptune-sized planets could not survive,” said Richard West, from the Department of Physics at the University of Warwick.

“We are now scouring out data to see if we can see any more planets in the Neptune Desert – perhaps the desert is greener than was once thought.



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