Found an exoplanet with signs of thermonuclear fusion

An international team of researchers has announced the discovery of a previously unknown massive exoplanet. The available data suggest that thermonuclear reactions involving deuterium are taking place in its core.

An exoplanet in the artist’s image. Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt

The newly found exoplanet orbits the star HD206893, located 123 light-years from Earth. In 2017, researchers discovered its companion, a brown dwarf which orbit passes at a distance of 10 AU from the sun. In the course of subsequent observations made using the HARPS spectrograph, astronomers revealed additional deviations in the radial velocity of HD206893, indicating the presence of another moon.

To find this body, astronomers used the GRAVITY receiver mounted on the VLT. It collects light streams simultaneously from all four main telescopes of the complex. As a result, a virtual super telescope with an equivalent aperture diameter of 130 m is formed.

GRAVITY has lived up to its expectations by discovering an exoplanet designated HD206893 c. Its orbit passes at a distance of 3.5 au from the star, and its mass is estimated at 12.7 Jupiter masses (with a measurement error of about one Jovian mass). In addition, the tool allowed scientists to determine the age of the system, which was 155 million years old.

The mass of HD206893 c is extremely close to the boundary separating extremely massive gas giants and brown dwarfs. Moreover, the analysis of its spectrum revealed signs of “lightening”. According to scientists, this indicates that thermonuclear reactions involving deuterium are taking place in the core of HD206893 c (it is believed that they can occur in bodies which mass is 13 times the mass of Jupiter). Thus, HD206893 c is of great scientific interest. Its further study may help scientists better understand the “boundary” objects which place them at the junction between exoplanets and brown dwarfs.

According to

Follow us on Twitter to get the most interesting space news in time