Is There A Planet Called ‘PTFO 8-8695 b’ In Space?

[photo credits: Glass_house via Flickr]
[photo credits: Glass_house via Flickr]
By name, “PTFO 8-8695 b” sounds a lot like some model number for an up and coming tech product such as a mobile phone. Rather, it is the name of (technically) a planet that is reportedly falling apart. The cause? It’s own sun!

“PTFO 8-8695 b” is a planet the scientists believe came to being 2 million years ago. The baby planet was believed to have come into existence from the swirling gas and rubble surrounding a star near the constellation of Orion.

“PTFO 8-8695 b” is still something that many are left theorizing to date. But if it does exist, the planet is likely falling apart because the baby planet was allegedly getting too close to the sun, a similar fate that befell “Icarus”.

Rice University astronomer Christophe John-Krull believes such could be the scenario and his findings will be published in the Astrophysical journal later this year. Included in his findings is that “PTFO 8-8695 b” is indeed a planet despite the fact that its formation carries more questions, particularly on the part of its formation.

“We don’t know the ultimate fate of this planet,” said John-Krull. “We’ll keep looking at this star.”

“PTFO 8-8695 b” was first identified some years back, something that researchers took notice because of regular dips in the brightness of star where it orbits. The flicker suggested that a planet was crossing in front of the star, something that occasionally blocked of its lights from the Earth’s view.

With the aid of a spectroscopic analysis, John-Krull and his team were able to identify two separate sources of a type of light emitted by highly energized hydrogen atoms which they called “H alpha”. One set of “H alpha” emissions was believed to be coming from the star.

But the other source seemed to move back and forth across the star — at exactly the pace you would expect to see from a planet like “PTFO 8-8695 b”, based on previous observations of its transit.

“The H alpha emission is very strong, almost as strong as what’s coming from the star, even though the planet is only 3 percent of the size of the star,” John-Krull said.

For now, John-Krull and his team will continue their observations and hopefully get some answers to the mystery tied up to the planet christened “PTFO 8-8695 b”.

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