Astronomers found ‘PH3c’ 2300 light years away


In a new finding, astronomers unveiled a new planet located 2300 light-years away from the Earth. The newly found planet got its name as PH3c. The dwarf planet has low mass density, subtle elusive orbit and its atmosphere is believed to be loaded with hydrogen and helium gases. PH3c has an unpredictably variable orbital period; this may be due to its small size that is hugely affected by the gravitational pull of other planets in the galaxy orbiting their sun.

PH3c is discovered by the researchers of Yale University in the Planet Hunters program that has discovered nearly 60 planets since 2010. Until now astronomers was not able to detect the planet due to its highly inconsistent orbital period that changes its orbit time by 10. Hours in just ten orbits. Even advanced and highly automated computer algorithms that look for stellar light curves and consistent dips by the objects revolving around the stars were unable to detect the planet.

“On Earth, these effects are very small, only on the scale of one second or so,” said Joseph Schmitt, a Yale University graduate student and first author of the paper. “PH3c’s orbital period changed by 10.5 hours in just ten orbits,” said Schmitt.

Only human eye could have detected the planet having such inconsistency in its orbital period. “It harnesses the human dimension of science,” said Debra Fischer, who leads the exoplanets group at Yale and is a co-author of the paper. “Computers cannot find the unexpected, but people can, when they eyeball the data,” Fischer said. The discovery also enabled astronomers to better characterise two other planets – one on each side of PH3c.

Earth also shows variation of nearly one minute in its orbital period. Earth is heavy thus effect of the presence of other planet’s gravitational pull is nullified, making orbital inconsistency insignificant.

The study is published online in The Astrophysical Journal

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