Day Thread of Exoplanet: Draugr (09/09)

As mentioned in a header last month, the exoplanet Tadmor enjoys the distinction of being the first world outside our Solar System to be detected, but it was not the first to be confirmed real. That honor belongs to a pair of planets found in 1992 to be orbiting the star PSR B1257+12, a pulsar in the constellation Virgo, some 2,300 light-years away from us. (Shout-out to AI-Generated dis(Content) for passionately advocating in favor of their precedence.)

Plot twist, again we will be shuffling order just a bit to focus on the third exoplanet in that very system, which was confirmed a couple of years later, in 1994. That planet, Draugr — or PSR B1257+12 b — is Tadmor’s greatest rival, the Bossk to Tadmor’s Boba Fett, if you will.

Size comparison with Earth (R) showing several possible radii:

source: Aldaron

Draugr is a very small, rocky body, only about 0.02 times the mass of Earth. It’s the smallest planet that has yet been discovered.1 Along with its two neighbors, Poltergeist and Phobetor, Draugr occupies rare and inhospitable stellar real estate, considering that their host star is a pulsar. The Wikipedia entry on pulsar planets gets into the crazy why, but because of the factors involved, these planets in particular have had a bit of imaginative flair attached to them. . . they are undead worlds:

Imaginative illustration of three pulsar exoplanets from NASA-JPL/Caltech.

The name “Draugr” comes from Scandinavian mythology, wherein it denotes a type of undead creature. The pulsar star B1257+12 itself is also known as Lich, another undead creature found in literature. Apparently there is an Adventure Time connection to that latter name, as well.

👽 Report: As with Tadmor, no signs of extraterrestrial life detected (yet). An alien would probably have to be pretty wild to call Draugr home.

Here’s hoping for a good Saturday back on Earth 🥞🎮🌎