Having received, thanks to the Hubble Space Observatory, more detailed photographs of the vicinity of the star Fomalhaut, astronomers doubted that the giant planet Dagon had ever existed in this star. An article about this was published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"We analyzed all the available photographs of Fomalhaut that Hubble took, and revealed several extremely strange properties of its" satellite "that real planets never show. This suggests that this object never actually existed." said one of the authors of the study, planetary scientist from the University of Arizona in Tucson (USA) Andras Gaspar.
Fomalhaut is one of the youngest and brightest stars located relatively close to the Earth. It is located only 25 light-years from the solar system and is a large yellow star. Fomalhaut is about 2, 3 times heavier than the Sun, and its diameter is 1, 9 times larger. At the same time, it is tens of times brighter than our star and hotter than it is by three thousand kelvin.
In 2008, astronomers from the University of California at Berkeley (USA) announced that there is a large planet, Fomalhaut b, in the disk of gas and dust that surrounds Fomalhaut. Their findings were quickly criticized, as their colleagues were unable to confirm that this planet exists.
In 2012, the Hubble telescope and a number of ground-based observatories received new images of Fomalhaut, which once again forced astronomers to change their minds. Moreover, in 2017, the International Astronomical Union gave her an official name - Dagon, making her the "namesake" of the Akkadian deity associated with navigation and agriculture.
Analyzing archival images of Hubble and relatively new photographs of Dagon taken in 2014, Gaspard and his colleagues concluded that the decision of the International Astronomical Union was premature.
Scientists initially tried to understand why the mass of this planet, which is supposedly the same size as Jupiter, is relatively small, and how a dust ring formed that surrounds Dagon and stretched out to its entire supposed orbit.
To answer these questions, planetary scientists compared the images of Fomalhaut and Dagon, obtained 14-16 years ago, as well as in 2010-2014, after it was assigned the status of a planet. The comparison showed at once several strange properties of this celestial body, which are incompatible with the title of the planet.
First, scientists found that the size of Fomalhaut b grew rapidly every year, while the "planet" itself became less and less bright and noticeable in Hubble images. In 2014, as Gaspard notes, she completely disappeared from all photographs, becoming invisible to the instruments of the orbiting observatory.
Moreover, when scientists calculated the speed of its movement, they found that it had risen sharply, and the direction of flight of the "planet" did not coincide in any way with how its supposed orbit passes. All this, as the researchers note, is absolutely not typical for any conceivable planets.
On the other hand, all such anomalies can be explained by the fact that Dagon is a ring of dust, which appeared as a result of the collision of two large asteroids or "embryos" of planets. This happened, as scientists assume, exactly when Hubble began to observe Fomalhaut.
As a result of such a cataclysm, a dense cloud of many small debris and dust was formed, which began to gradually expand. Over time, it dissipated to such an extent that this accumulation of matter became invisible to the Hubble. This explains both the fact that the size of the "Dagon" has increased, and the strange trajectory of its movement. All this suggests that such a planet never existed, scientists conclude.