For more than a decade, astronomers have searched for planets orbiting AU Microscopii, a nearby star still surrounded by a disk of debris left over from its formation.
For more than a decade, astronomers have searched for planets orbiting AU Microscopii, a nearby star still surrounded by a disk of debris left over from its formation. Now scientists using data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and retired Spitzer Space Telescope report the discovery of a planet about as large as Neptune that circles the young star in just over a week.
The system, known as AU Mic for short, provides a one-of-a-kind laboratory for studying how planets and their atmospheres form, evolve and interact with their stars.
“AU Mic is a young, nearby M dwarf star. It’s surrounded by a vast debris disk in which moving clumps of dust have been tracked, and now, thanks to TESS and Spitzer, it has a planet with a direct size measurement,” said Bryson Cale, a doctoral student at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. “There is no other known system that checks all of these important boxes.”
Read more at: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
This illustration depicts one interpretation of the planet AU Mic b and its young red dwarf host star. The system lies about 32 light-years away in the southern constellation Microsopium. (Photo Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith (USRA))