Astronomers Alex Wolszczan and Dale Frail discovered the planet PSR B1257+12B. It has an Earth-like mass and circles an exotic type of dead star known as a pulsar. The discovery was pursued by the disclosure that the planet is accompanied by at least two other worlds. These other planets orbiting the pulsar PSR B1257+12 are also of similar sizes to the rocky worlds of the solar system.
However, the biggest study of pulsars and their planets ever performed has indicated that these dead stars rarely consist of Earth-like companions. That makes this system, which NASA considered a “graveyard” after the supernova that created PSR B1257+1, an anomaly.
It’s little wonder that the pulsar has earned.
The nickname “Lich.” It signifies a powerful and evil undead creature of the same name in fiction.
A study of 800 pulsars over the last 50 years, carried out by experimenters at Britain’s Jodrell Bank Observatory, has indicated that only 0.5% of pulsars host planets with masses identical to Earth. The researchers’ findings were published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
“[Pulsars] produce signals which sweep the Earth every time they rotate, similarly to a cosmic lighthouse,” University of Manchester Ph.D. student Iuliana-Camelia Nițu announced in a statement. “These signals can then be picked up by radio telescopes and turned into a lot of amazing science.”