RIT scientists discover the nearest-known ‘baby giant planet’

Science

HENRIETTA, N.Y. (WROC) — Scientists from Rochester Institute of Technology have discovered a newborn massive planet close to Earth than any other of a similar young age found to date.

The baby giant planet, called 2MASS 1155-7919 b, lies only about 330 light years from our solar system.

The discovery provides researchers an exciting new way to study how gas giants form.

“The dim, cool object we found is very young and only 10 times the mass of Jupiter, which means we are likely looking at an infant planet, perhaps still in the midst of formation,” Annie Dickson-Vandervelde said in a statement, lead author and astrophysical science and technology Ph.D. student.

“Though lots of other planets have been discovered through the Kepler mission and other missions like it, almost all of those are ‘old’ planets. This is also only the fourth or fifth example of a giant planet so far from its ‘parent’ star, and theorists are struggling to explain how they formed or ended up there.”

The baby giant planet:

  • orbits a star that is only about 5 million years old — about 1,000 times younger than our sun.
  • orbits its sun at 600 times the distance of the Earth to the sun.

The co-authors of the paper were Emily Wilson, an astrophysical sciences and technology PhD. student and Joel Kastner, a professor in RIT’s Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science and School of Physics and Astronomy.

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