Astronomers Discover ‘Forbidden’ Planet


Who knows if there might be other "forbidden planets" out there? | Image by Phillipe Donn/Pexels.

A new cosmic discovery by astronomers is challenging assumptions about planet formation, leading researchers to call it the “forbidden planet.”

Officially designated TOI-5205b, the planet was found by researchers during NASA’s planet-hunting mission using the agency’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS).

It is a gas giant, roughly the size of Jupiter, orbiting a relatively small star approximately 280 light-years from Earth.

“The reason this has been dubbed ‘forbidden’ in recent press releases is the fact that it challenges our current assumptions of planet formation that we have gleaned from our solar system and exoplanets discovered orbiting Sun-like stars,” said Caleb Cañas, a researcher with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, in response to an email by The Dallas Express.

“TOI-5205[b] is joining a growing list of Jupiter-sized gas giants orbiting the small and cool stars known as M dwarfs. These low mass host stars have a smaller budget of material available to form planets, which makes the formation of particularly massive planets like TOI-5205[b] very difficult,” he added.

The forbidden planet is just the latest planetary discovery by NASA using TESS.

As previously reported in The Dallas Express, NASA discovered a second Earth-like planet (TOI-700e) outside our solar system, orbiting a relatively nearby star. Researchers considered the world “Earth-like” because of its approximate size and distance from its star, being at such a range that it could be possible for water to exist.

TOI-5205b, however, is magnitudes larger than TOI-700e. It is so big in relation to its star that it challenges previous assumptions regarding cosmology and physics.

“[T]here should not be enough heavy element materials in the protoplanetary disk for M dwarfs to form a planet like TOI-5205[b],” Cañas told The Dallas Express. “The fact that this planet exists does indicate there is some gap in our understanding of either protoplanetary disks around M dwarfs, core accretion, or gravitational instability.”

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