Belfast Telegraph

Belfast scientists help find 'Forbidden Planet'

An image of the newly discovered planet
An image of the newly discovered planet
Brett Campbell

By Brett Campbell

A rogue planet three times larger than Earth has been discovered by an international team of astronomers, including researchers from Queen's University Belfast.

NGTS-4b, which has its own atmosphere, has been nicknamed 'The Forbidden Planet'. It was discovered outside the Solar System in the Neptunian Desert, where such planets aren't expected, by a collaboration of scientists at the Next-Generation Transit Survey (NGTS).

The facility in the Atacama desert in Chile finds new planets by looking for dips in the light of a star as an orbiting planet passes in front of it.

Dr Chris Watson, from the Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen's, said: "Nature appears to be quite inventive with how it can form planets, and we have to be equally inventive in order to catch them. NGTS has been spectacular in this respect."

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