California astronomers have made the first discovery of a planet orbiting a giant star that had burned out and swollen to a massive size. Astronomers did not expect that any planet would survive the expansion of the star it orbits.
The finding was announced at last week's annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society. The findings arise from techniques that measure how much gravitational pull an object exerts on the star it is orbiting. The results suggest that the object is a planet eight times the size of Jupiter, although it could be a failed brown dwarf star instead.
If it is a planet, it is not believed to contain any life. Giant stars pummel their nearby environment with radiation and heat.
Compiled by Times science writer Usha Lee McFarling