Dr. Karen Collins, astronomer of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), with the collaboration of a great scientific team, recently discovered a mysterious object called TIC 4007992 A riddle cosmic object in orbit around a star.
The team has used the help of TESS, the Transition Exoplanet Survey Satellite, a NASA space telescope launched in 2018 with the aim of discovering small planets around the stars closest to the sun.
TESS has so far discovered 172 confirmed exoplanets and compiled a list of as many as 4703 candidates exoplanets. Its ultrasensitive camera is capable of shooting images that cover a huge field of vision, more than twice the area of the Orion constellation, also assembling a catalog with over 1 billion objects, the TESS Input Catalog (TIC).
The team’s astronomers then searched the TESS registry using machine learning-based calculation tools developed by behavior observed in hundreds of thousands of known variable objects.
The mysterious 400799224 ICT source was spotted randomly due to its rapid change in brightness, of almost 25% in just four hours, followed by several net variations that could be interpreted as an eclipse.
Astronomers then further studied the object with a wide variety of instruments, some of which have been observing the sky for much longer than TESS is in operation, discovering that ICT 400799224 is probably a celestial body orbiting in a system.
The authors of the discovery stated: “We are probably faced with a cloaking object that is orbiting around the host star and that periodically emits clouds of dust that hide it. Moreover, the very nature of the orbiting body is also surprising.”
In fact, the amount of dust emitted is extraordinary. For example, if such a mass were produced by the disintegration of an object as large as the Ceres asteroid in our solar system, it could remain visible only eight thousand years before it disappeared, instead the dust emitted by ICT 400799224 apparently remained unchanged
The team is therefore deeply enthusiastic about the discovery, and has as its goal to continue monitoring the object and incorporate historical observations of the sky in order to try to determine its variations over many decades.
Who knows how much more we can discover about space thanks to new technologies, such as the first planet in orbit around three stars. And speaking of innovative astronomical tools, have you ever wondered where the James Webb telescope is now? Here is a fantastic site to follow your trip.