HD 106906 b

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HD 106906 b
Exoplanet List of exoplanets
HD 106906 b image.jpg
The star HD 106906 and the planet HD 106906 b, with Neptune's orbit for comparison
Parent star
Star HD 106906
Constellation Crux[1]
Right ascension (α) 12h 17m 53.0s[2]
Declination (δ) −54° 01′ 28″[2]
Apparent magnitude (mV) 7.8[2]
Distance 300 ± 18[2] ly
(92 ± 6[2] pc)
Spectral type F5V C[2]
Temperature (T) 6,516 ± 165[2] K
Observed separation
Angular separation (ρ) 7110 ± 30[3] mas
Projected separation (d) 650[2] AU
Physical characteristics
Mass (m) 11 ± 2[3] MJ
Discovery information
Discovery date December 4, 2013 (published)[3]
Discoverer(s) Vanessa Bailey, et al.[4]
Discovery method Direct imaging[2]
Discovery site Magellan Telescopes at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile[4]
Discovery status Published[1]
Database references
Extrasolar Planets
Exoplanet Archive data
Open Exoplanet Catalogue data

HD 106906 b is a directly imaged planetary-mass companion[3] and candidate exoplanet orbiting the star HD 106906, in the constellation Crux at about 300 light-years from Earth.[1] It is estimated to be about eleven times the mass of Jupiter and is located about 650 AU, or nearly 97 billion kilometers (60 billion miles), away from its host star.[4] HD 106906 b is unique to science; while its mass estimate is nominally consistent with identifying it as an exoplanet, it appears at a much wider separation from its parent star than thought possible for in-situ formation from a protoplanetary disk.[5]


HD 106906 b is the only known companion orbiting HD 106906, an F-type pre-main-sequence star with about 1.5 times the Sun's mass and 6 times its luminosity.[3] Based on the star's luminosity and temperature, the system is estimated to be about 13 million years old. The system is a likely member of the Scorpius–Centaurus Association. The star is surrounded by a luminous, massive debris disk at a much smaller separation than HD 106906 b.[3] Based on its near-infrared spectral-energy distribution, its age, and relevant evolutionary models, HD 106906 b is estimated to be eleven times the mass of Jupiter, with a surface temperature of 1,800 K (1,500 °C; 2,800 °F).[3] The high surface temperature, a relic of its recent formation, gives it a luminosity of about 0.02% of the Sun's.[3] While its mass and temperature are similar to other planetary-mass companions/exoplanets like beta Pictoris b or 1RXS J160929.1−210524 b, its projected separation from the star is much larger, about 650 AU,[3][a] giving it one of the widest orbits of any currently known planetary-mass companions.[3]

The measurements obtained thus far are not adequate to evaluate its orbital properties. If its eccentricity is large enough, it might approach the outer edge of the primary's debris disk closely enough to interact with it at periastron. In such a case, the outer extent of the debris disk would be truncated at the inner edge of HD 106906 b's Hill sphere at periastron, or at its periastron minus 15 AU for a limit around 120 AU (see below).[3]

The discovery team evaluated the possibility that HD 106906 b is not gravitationally bound to HD 106906, but is seen close to it along our line of sight and moving in the same direction by chance. The odds of such a coincidence were found to be less than 0.01%.[3]


Observation of star HD 106906 began in 2005, utilizing the Magellan Telescopes at the Las Campanas Observatory in the Atacama Desert of Chile, some eight years before the companion was discovered. The initial interest in HD 106906 A was directed largely to the debris disk surrounding the star, a pre-main-sequence member of Lower Centaurus Crux. On December 4, 2013, University of Arizona graduate student Vanessa Bailey, leader of an international team of astronomers, detailed the discovery of HD 106906 b with a paper first published as a preprint on the arXiv and later as a refereed article in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.[3]

Possible formation mechanism[edit]

The discovery team and astronomers worldwide were puzzled by HD 106906 b's extreme separation from its host star, because it is not considered possible that a star's protoplanetary disk could be extensive enough to permit formation of gas giants at such a distance.[b] To account for the separation, it is theorized that the companion formed independently from its star as part of a binary system. This proposal is somewhat problematic in that the mass ratio of ~140:1 is not in the range expected from this process; binary stars typically do not exceed a ratio of 10:1.[5][6] This is still considered preferable, however, to the alternate theory that the companion formed closer to its primary and then was scattered to its present distance by gravitational interaction with another orbital object. This second companion would need to have a mass greater than that of HD 106906 b, and the discovery team found no such object beyond 35 AU from the primary. Additionally, the scattering process would have likely disrupted the protoplanetary disk.[3]

Public reaction[edit]

A petition had been launched asking the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to name the companion Gallifrey, after the homeworld of the Doctor on the British science fiction series Doctor Who. The petition had gathered over 139,000 signatures. In January 2014, however, it was agreed by the IAU not to accept the petition's goal to name it Gallifrey, as the petition did not follow the public policy of the IAU that a discussion between the public and IAU should be started before naming any spatial entity, and that this policy was not respected.[7][8][9]

In 2009, IAU stated that it had no plans to assign names to extrasolar planets, considering it impractical.[10] However, in August 2013 the IAU changed its stance, inviting members of the public to suggest names for exoplanets.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ This distance is about 22 times the separation of Neptune from the Sun, or about 2/3 that of Sedna at aphelion.
  2. ^ The unresolved debris disk of HD 106906 is believed to extend from radii of about 20 AU to an outer limit of no more than 120 AU, based on the disk's apparent temperature of 95 K (−178 °C; −289 °F), the star's spectral type, and other properties. The disk's infrared emission appears to be close to that of a black body.[3]


  1. ^ a b c "HD 106906b: Unique Super-Jupiter Exoplanet Discovered". Sci-News.com. December 6, 2013. Retrieved December 8, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Planet HD 106906 b". Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia. Retrieved December 8, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Bailey, Vanessa; Meshkat, Tiffany; Reiter, Megan; Morzinski, Katie; Males, Jared; Su, Kate Y. L.; Hinz, Philip M.; Kenworthy, Matthew; Stark, Daniel; et al. (January 2014). "HD 106906 b: A planetary-mass companion outside a massive debris disk". The Astrophysical Journal Letters. 780 (1): L4. Bibcode:2014ApJ...780L...4B. arXiv:1312.1265Freely accessible. doi:10.1088/2041-8205/780/1/L4. 
  4. ^ a b c Morin, Monte (December 5, 2013). "Giant alien world discovered where it should not exist". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 8, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Osborne, Hannah (December 6, 2013). "Mystery Planet 'That Shouldn't Exist' Baffles Astronomers". International Business Times. Retrieved December 8, 2013. 
  6. ^ Chow, Denise (December 6, 2013). "Giant Alien Planet Discovered in Most Distant Orbit Ever Seen". space.com. Retrieved December 8, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Gallifrey Petition". The Mighty Challenge. Retrieved February 20, 2014. 
  8. ^ Quinn, Karl (December 11, 2013). "Doctor Who fan in online petition to name newly found planet". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved December 10, 2013. 
  9. ^ Zolfagharifard, Ellie (December 10, 2013). "Dr Who fans set up petition to name newly-discovered planet 'Gallifrey' after home of the Time Lords - and it's already got 118,000 signatures". Daily Mail. Retrieved December 10, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Planets around other stars". International Astronomical Union. Archived from the original on January 1, 2010. Retrieved December 6, 2009. 
  11. ^ "Public Naming of Planets and Planetary Satellites: Reaching Out for Worldwide Recognition with the Help of the IAU" (PDF). International Astronomical Union. August 13, 2013. Retrieved August 19, 2013.