An international team of astronomers led by the University of Warwick has found a "forbidden" planet orbiting the "Neptunian Desert" of another star. Located 920 light years from Earth, exoplanet NGTS-4b is 20 percent smaller than Neptune, yet it retains an atmosphere despite being close enough to circle its star once every 1.3 days and having a surface temperature of 1,000° C (1,800° F).

   The hunt for exoplanets keeps throwing out surprises and the latest is a planet that simply shouldn't be where it is. The accepted wisdom is that planets the size of Neptune or smaller can have atmospheres when they are far away from their host stars, but are airless, rocky planets if they are close in because, unlike those the size of Jupiter and bigger, they haven't enough gravity or powerful magnetic fields to counteract the heat and solar winds from a star at close range.

    Discovered by the Next-Generation Transit Survey (NGTS) telescope array at the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory in Chile's infamous Atacama Desert, NGTS-4b is a "forbidden" planet in that it is a Neptune-sized planet with a mass 20 times that of the Earth, it is close in to its star, but it still has an atmosphere.