It is neither an exoplanet nor an asteroid. But what the recently discovered object with the designation “TIC 400799224” actually is remains to be seen for the time being. All astronomer can say right now is that the missile has a lot of dust in it universe seems to expel.
Mystery in the universe: we know that about TIC 400799224
Not too much is known about the property at the moment. What makes TIC 400799224 noticeable is its behavior. The dusty missile blocks the light from its star by up to 75 percent. According to ScienceAlert, this can hardly be explained, at least it is not because TIC 400799224 is more unpredictable or more stubborn than other objects that slide in front of their star.
TIC 400799224 orbits a star system that is around 2,300 light years away from us. It was discovered by TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite), a NASA space telescope. Researchers use this to search for small planets in the universe that move around our neighboring stars.
TIC 400799224 revealed that
It was a coincidence that TIC 400799224 noticed. The object’s cloud of dust caused a sudden drop in the brightness of its star of almost 25 percent in just a few hours. This was followed by several changes in brightness, which can be interpreted as an eclipse.
Usually this indicates a decomposing object in the universe. But after six years of analyzing data, the astronomers noticed something unusual.
TIC 400799224 orbits not just a single, but a binary star system. While one of the two stars is pulsing with a reliable interval of 19.77 days, the object that regularly darkens it behaves unpredictably in terms of shape, depth and duration.
“The nature of the object is confusing because the amount of dust emitted is large; if that would result from the decomposition of an object (…) it would only survive 8,000 years before it disappears. Remarkably, though, over the six years that the object was observed, its periodicity remained strict and the object that was secreting the dust appeared to be intact. “
Karen Collins, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
First explanations for the dust cloud in the universe
It is also unclear which of the two stars TIC 400799224 orbits. Depending on which of these is the actual parent star of the object, its ejected dust blocks up to 37 percent or 75 percent of the light, as the researchers explain in The Astronomical Journal.
There are three theories of dust itself, the second of which is considered the most likely:
- Decomposition of an object on transition from solid to gaseous
- Collision with a small, planet-like object, causing sporadic clouds of dust
- Dust passing through a planet in the star’s disk
In the past, similar observations could mostly be traced back to disintegrating planets. However, the investigating team currently believes that the data differ enough.
Sources: The Astronomical Journal, ScienceAlert