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Giant planet discovered by Chinese astronomers

The fluctuation in light from the QS Virginis system over a period of 1.2 hours. Image Credit: Shengbang Qian, National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

BEIJING (BNS): A team of Chinese astronomers have discovered a giant planet close to the exotic binary star system QS Virginis. The planet is currently dormant.

According to Professor Shengbang Qian of National Astronomical Observatories of Yunnan Observatory, there is high possibility that the two stars will one day erupt in a violent nova outburst, as reported by the Royal Astronomical Society.

The binary system QS Virginis lies in the direction of the Virgo constellation. The system is made up of a cool red dwarf and a hot dense white dwarf. The two stars are apart about twice the distance from the Earth to the Moon.

Prof. Qian’s team has observed closely at the way the light from QS Virginis fluctuated throughout each orbit. The team, by timing the eclipses found that the duration of the orbit changed with the time of mid-eclipse periodically advanced or delayed. Thus, the team with their calculations assumed that there is a giant planet, with a minimum mass of 6.4 times the mass of Jupiter, as per the report.

“For once we have advance notice of the formation of a cataclysmic variable and the chance to study what will happen to the planet in orbit around it. The scientific community should watch this system over the decades ahead – it should give us a real insight into these exotic stars,” said Prof.Qian who sees this as an good opportunity for the scientists.

The Royal Astronomical Society encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science, geophysics and closely related branches of science.

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