UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Astronomers have found a barely formed giant planet located surprisingly close to Earth. But the surprises did not end there: the distance between this world and its parent star made experts smash their heads.
The discovery is described in a scientific article published in the journal Research Notes of the AAS.
The researchers used the second data release of the Gaia orbital telescope to search for stars around which massive dim bodies revolve. The amazing accuracy of the instrument allows you to capture small displacements of the star, caused by the gravity of the satellite.
Astronomers have drawn attention to the young star 2MASS 1155-7919, which is only about 5 million years old, about a thousand times younger than our Sun. Her movement betrayed the presence of a companion, who was assigned the designation 2MASS 1155-7919 b.
“The dim cool object that we found is very young and only ten times more massive than Jupiter. This means that we are probably observing a baby planet, perhaps still in the midst of formation,” says the first author of the article, Dorothy Dixon-Vandervelde ( Dorothy Dickson-Vandervelde ) from the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Astronomers are not the first to discover newborn worlds . But 2MASS 1155-7919 b stands out among them in that it is record-breaking close to Earth: a total of 330 light years. (For reference: the radius of the Milky Way exceeds 50 thousand light years). This means that it will be easier for astronomers to study it and, using its example, to find out how planets form.
However, the celestial body is not only remarkable for this. It is 600 times farther from the parent star than the Earth from the Sun. Mankind knows more than four thousand exoplanets, and it is extremely rare that they are so far removed from their bodies (however, these statistics should also be affected by the fact that such worlds are extremely difficult to detect).
“This is only the fourth or fifth example of a giant planet that is so far from its parent star, and theorists are trying to explain how they formed or ended up there,” notes Dickson-Vandervelde.
Indeed, according to existing theories , planets are born much closer to their stars. The study of 2MASS 1155-7919 b, perhaps, will force specialists to supplement and clarify their models of planetary systems formation.
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for OBSERVATORY NEWS from different countries around the world – material edited and published by OBSERVATORY staff in our newsroom.
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