"This planet must be tough-it is right in the zone where we expected Neptune-sized planets could not survive", Richard West, author of the study from the Astronomy and Astrophysics Group at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, said in a statement.
But NGTS-4b still has its atmosphere of gas.
An worldwide team led by astronomers with the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom issued an announcement this week that sounds like a summary for a Star Trek episode: "The "Forbidden" Planet has been found in the 'Neptunian Desert'".
"This planet must be tough - it is right in the zone where we expected Neptune-sized planets could not survive, "says Richard West, a physicist at the University of Warwick". It also seems to retain an atmosphere, which particularly surprised the researchers, since at such a close distance to its star it would be hard for the planet to cling to gas.
This illustration shows what NGTS-4b might look like.
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A odd exoplanet, NGTS-4b, smaller than Neptune with its own atmosphere has been discovered in the Neptunian Desert, by an worldwide collaboration of astronomers, with the University of Warwick taking a leading role. A dip usually means a planet orbiting a star is blocking its light. However, the telescopes at the NGTS facility can pick up dips even as small as 0.2 percent. Yet, it still has its own atmosphere, something that has caused researchers to scratch their heads.
Here, planets are blasted with radiation from stars, so the planets can't maintain their gaseous atmosphere.
The exoplanet, described in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, has a mass of 20 Earth masses, a radius 20 per cent smaller than Neptune, and temperature of 1000 degrees Celsius.
Researchers believe the planet may have moved into the Neptunian Desert recently, in the last one million years, or it was very big and the atmosphere is still evaporating.
Richard West, a professor in the department of physics at the University of Warwick who worked on the research, called the discovery "truly remarkable" in a press release.
The findings of the global study are featured in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
West added that they are still looking over data to find out whether there are more planets to discover in the Neptunian Desert.