PSR B1257+12 B

PSR B1257+12 c, alternatively designated PSR B1257+12 B, also named Poltergeist, is an extrasolar planet approximately 2,300 light-years away[3] in the constellation of Virgo. It was one of the first planets ever discovered outside the Solar System,[4][5] and is one of three pulsar planets known to be orbiting the pulsar PSR B1257+12.

PSR B1257+12 B
Exoplanet Comparison PSR B1257+12 B.png
Size comparison of PSR B1257+12 B with Earth and Neptune
(Based on selected hypothetical modeled compositions
Discovered byAleksander Wolszczan
Discovery site Poland
Discovery date22 January 1992
Pulsar Timing
Orbital characteristics
0.36 AU (54,000,000 km)[1]
Eccentricity0.0186 ± 0.0002[1]
66.5419 ± 0.0001[1] d
Inclination53 ± 4[1][note 1]
2,449,768.1 ± 0.1[1]
250.4 ± 0.6[1]
StarPSR B1257+12
Physical characteristics
Mass4.3 ± 0.2[1] MEarth
Temperature193 K (−80 °C; −112 °F)[2]
  1. ^ The method used to determine the inclination includes a degeneracy because of the impossibility of determining whether the orbital motion is clockwise or anticlockwise. The alternate value of the inclination is 127 ± 4°.

Over four times as massive as the Earth, it circles the primary at a distance of 0.36 AU with an orbital period of approximately 66 days. Because it and Phobetor have very similar masses and orbit close to each other, they were expected to cause measurable perturbations in each other's orbits. Detecting such perturbations confirmed that the planets were real. Accurate masses of the two planets, as well as their inclinations, were calculated from how much the planets perturb each other.


The convention that arose for designating pulsars was that of using the letters PSR (Pulsating Source of Radio) followed by the pulsar's right ascension and degrees of declination. The modern convention prefixes the older numbers with a B meaning the coordinates are for the 1950.0 epoch. All new pulsars have a J indicating 2000.0 coordinates and also have declination including minutes. Pulsars that were discovered before 1993 tend to retain their B names rather than use their J names, but all pulsars have a J name that provides more precise coordinates of its location in the sky.[6]

Artist's impression image of the planet PSR B1257+12 B.

On its discovery, the planet was designated PSR 1257+12 B and later PSR B1257+12 B. It was discovered before the convention that extrasolar planets receive designations consisting of the star's name followed by lower-case Roman letters starting from "b" was established.[7] However, it is listed under the latter convention on astronomical databases such as SIMBAD and the Extrasolar Planets Encyclopedia. Hence the designation PSR B1257+12 c.

In July 2014, the International Astronomical Union launched NameExoWorlds, a process for giving proper names to certain exoplanets and their host stars.[8] The process involved public nomination and voting for the new names.[9] In December 2015, the IAU announced the winning name was Poltergeist for this planet.[10][11] The winning name was submitted by the Planetarium Südtirol Alto Adige in Karneid, Italy. Poltergeist is a name for supernatural beings that create physical disturbances, from the German for "noisy ghost".[12]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Konacki, M.; Wolszczan, A. (2003). "Masses and Orbital Inclinations of Planets in the PSR B1257+12 System". The Astrophysical Journal. 591 (2): L147–L150. arXiv:astro-ph/0305536. Bibcode:2003ApJ...591L.147K. doi:10.1086/377093.
  2. ^ Extrasolar Visions - PSR 1257+12 B Archived December 26, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Yan, Zhen; et al. (2013). "Very long baseline interferometry astrometry of PSR B1257+12, a pulsar with a planetary system". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 433 (1): 162–169. Bibcode:2013MNRAS.433..162Y. doi:10.1093/mnras/stt712.
  4. ^ "Pulsar Planets". Archived from the original on 2005-12-30.
  5. ^ Wolszczan, A.; Frail, D. (1992). "A planetary system around the millisecond pulsar PSR1257 + 12". Nature. 355 (6356): 145–147. Bibcode:1992Natur.355..145W. doi:10.1038/355145a0.
  6. ^ Lyne, Andrew G.; Graham-Smith, Francis. Pulsar Astronomy. Cambridge University Press, 1998.
  7. ^ Hessman, F. V.; Dhillon, V. S.; Winget, D. E.; Schreiber, M. R.; Horne, K.; Marsh, T. R.; Guenther, E.; Schwope, A.; Heber, U. (2010). "On the naming convention used for multiple star systems and extrasolar planets". arXiv:1012.0707 [astro-ph.SR].
  8. ^ NameExoWorlds: An IAU Worldwide Contest to Name Exoplanets and their Host Stars. 9 July 2014
  9. ^ NameExoWorlds The Process
  10. ^ Final Results of NameExoWorlds Public Vote Released, International Astronomical Union, 15 December 2015.
  11. ^ The Proposals page for Mu Arae Archived 2017-04-05 at the Wayback Machine, International Astronomical Union, 2016-01-03.
  12. ^ NameExoWorlds The Approved Names

External linksEdit

  Media related to PSR B1257+12 B at Wikimedia Commons