Washington: An international research team of astronomers have discovered three new planets- each orbiting its own giant, dying star –outside our solar system.
Using the Hobby-Eberly Telescope, the astronomers observed the planets’ parent stars - called HD 240237, BD +48 738, and HD 96127 - tens of light years away from our solar system.
One of the massive, dying stars has an additional mystery object orbiting it, according to team leader Alex Wolszczan, an Evan Pugh Professor of
Astronomy and Astrophysics at Penn State University.
Wolszczan was the first astronomer ever to discover planets outside our solar system in 1992.
The new research is expected to shed light on the evolution of planetary systems around dying stars. It also will help astronomers to understand how metal content influences the behaviour of dying stars.
The three newly discovered planetary systems are more evolved than our own solar system.
“Each of the three stars is swelling and has already become a red giant -- a dying star that soon will gobble up any planet that happens to be orbiting too close to it,” Wolszczan added.
The three dying stars and their accompanying planets have been particularly useful to the research team because they have helped to illuminate such ongoing mysteries as how dying stars behave depending on their metallicity.
The research will be published in December in the Astrophysical Journal.