Astronomers say they've found a new Neptune-like planet

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By Sinead Barry  with Associated Press
Forbidden Planet
Forbidden Planet   -   Copyright  University of Warwick/Mark Garlick

Astronomers say they have found a new planet about three times the size of Earth.

The study, published on Wednesday by the Royal Astronomical Survey, reveals the discovery of the Neptune-like "NGTS-4b" nicknamed the "Forbidden Planet".

The exoplanet — so named because it exists outside our solar system — was uncovered in "Neptunian Desert".

This area receives such strong heat and radiation it was thought planets would not be able to retain their gaseous atmosphere. But "NGTS-4b" has managed to do so, hence why it's been given the name the "Forbidden Planet".

"This planet is very, very close to its star. In fact, it orbits its star every 1.3 days. So, a year on this planet is only 1.3 days, " said Daniel Bayliss, from the University of Warwick, who worked on the study.

"When you're that close to a star, then you get a lot of radiation from the star and it's enough to strip off the layers of an atmosphere on a planet that's about the size of Neptune. We think it's probably about 1,000℃ on this planet.

"So far, people were searching for planets haven't found planets like this. And we thought that was because a planet about the size of Neptune, this close to the host star would get evaporated. And previous surveys have indeed found no planets in this zone."

"NGTS-4b" is about three times the size of Earth and 920 light-years away from our planet.

Video editor • Laetitia Rodari