Telescopes from the University of Warwick and astronomers have found a planet in the Neptunian Desert. The Forbidden Planet is just a nickname for NGTS-4b, a planet that is with 20% smaller than Neptune, and three times larger than Earth. NGTS-4b was discovered with Next-Generation Transit Survey (NGTS) which has the purpose of searching for transiting planets. NGTS-4b is so small that the discovery wasn’t possible with other telescopes.
NGTS-4b or the Forbidden Planet
NGTS-4b is an exoplanet with a smaller size than Neptune; it has its own atmosphere and was discovered in the Neptunian Desert. The research was led by Dr. Richard West, Professor Peter Wheatley, Dr. Daniel Bayliss, and Dr. James McCormac from the Astronomy and Astrophysics Group at the University of Warwick. The collaboration was between UK Universities Warwick, Leicester, Cambridge, and Queen’s University Belfast, together with DLR Berlin, Observatory de Genève and the University of Chile. In the heart of Chile, the Atacama Desert is NGTS.
As we mentioned above, the Forbidden Planet is so much smaller than Neptune and three times bigger than Earth and is 920 light-years from our planet. NGTS-4b has 1000 degrees Celsius, a radius of 20% smaller than Neptune, and a mass of 20 Earth masses. The planet is orbiting around its star in 1.3 days, and that means the time Earth is circling the Sun in one year. Also, the Neptunian Desert is the region of Neptune where no other planet was found because the area is receiving powerful irradiation from it. Usually, any planet that was orbiting there wouldn’t retain its gaseous atmosphere because it would evaporate, but NGTS-4b has gas on its atmosphere.
Finally, scientists believe that the planet has moved recently (one million years ago) in the Neptunian Desert. Another theory is that the planet was massive and it’s evaporating its atmosphere. They know that no planet could survive in the Neptunian Desert, so this discovery is unexpected.