Mysterious gassy 'Forbidden Planet' discovered 920 light years from Earth

A gaseous planet roughly the size of Neptune which was recently discovered is being cited as an astrological anomaly because it shouldn't exist.

NGTS-4B, dubbed the 'Forbidden planet', was found in a region referred to as a celestial 'desert' 920 light years from Earth, according to Daily Mail.

The planet has a surface temperature of 1,800°C and defies all previous research by existing so close to its star that its atmosphere should have evaporated.

This wasteland around a star caused by immense levels of radiation was thought to create a swath of space devoid of any gassy planets.

But 'Forbidden' has been spotted in the middle of this zone orbiting every 1.3 days around a star 920 light years away from Earth.


The Neptunian planet, known formally as NGTs-4b, was found by telescopes run by the University of Warwick in an international collaboration of astronomers.

It is 20 per cent smaller than Neptune, about three times the size of Earth and has a surface temperature of more than 1,000°C (1.800°F) - hotter than Mercury.

Nick-named 'The Forbidden Planet' by researchers it orbits around the star in only 1.3 days and is the first exoplanet of its kind to have been found in the Neptunian Desert.

It was thought a large planet the size of NGTs-4b would not be sustainable this close to a host star as the immense radiation would cause the gases to evaporate and disappear, leaving just a rocky core behind.

Researchers at the University of Warwick are unsure why the planet defies logic and exists in its current location.

They speculate the planet either wandered to its current position recently - within the last million years or so - or it was previously even larger than its current girth and the atmosphere is still evaporating.

Experts discovered it when it orbited in front of the star and caused its brightness to dip by just 0.2 per cent.

Dr Richard West, from the Department of Physics at the University of Warwick comments: 'This planet must be tough - it is right in the zone where we expected Neptune-sized planets could not survive.

'It is truly remarkable that we found a transiting planet via a star dimming by less than 0.2 per cent - this has never been done before by telescopes on the ground, and it was great to find after working on this project for a year.

'We are now scouring out data to see if we can see any more planets in the Neptune Desert – perhaps the desert is greener than was once thought.'