This planet’s rings are so big they blot out their star’s light

PDS 110’s mysterious eclipses may be caused by one big natural megastructure.
By | Published: May 31, 2017 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
University of Warwick

Something is amiss with young star PDS 110. Every two-and-a-half years, the star dips down by 30 percent in brightness — more than the “maaaaaaybe it’s aliens” weird dimming of Tabby’s Star. But where a few people think Tabby’s Star may be blocked by artificial megastructures, the dimming around PDS 110 may be caused by much more natural ones.


In a paper published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, researchers put forth a startling cause for the dips: a massive planet with a ring system that stretches far, far beyond the planet. The object may be 50 times the mass of Jupiter, which makes it an extremely large planet or a small brown dwarf.


Because the planet is in its star’s habitable zone, there’s some chatter that it could have habitable exomoons. The next transit is expected to take place in September of this year, which could help further draw out details of this unusual system.