Washington, March 24(IANS) - Using data from orbiting observatories and ground-based facilities, an international team…
Washington , PTI:Astronomers have discovered a giant planet, at least eight times larger than Jupiter, that orbits a 2 million-year-old star about 450 light years from Earth, contradicting a long-standing idea that larger planets take longer to form.
The star CI Tau is so young that it still retains a disk of circumstellar gas and dust, researchers said.
“For decades, conventional wisdom held that large Jupiter-mass planets take a minimum of 10 million years to form,” said Christopher Johns-Krull from Rice University in the US.
“That’s been called into question over the past decade, and many new ideas have been offered, but the bottom line is that we need to identify a number of newly formed planets around young stars if we hope to fully understand planet formation,” said Johns-Krull.
The planet CI Tau b is at least eight times larger than Jupiter and orbits the 2 million-year-old star about 450 light-years from Earth in the constellation Taurus, said researchers, including those from the University of Texas at Austin, NASA and Northern Arizona University.
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Earth and the Sun are more than 4 billion years old, and while the 3,300-plus catalogue of exoplanets includes some older and some younger than Earth, the obstacles to finding planets around newly formed stars are varied and daunting, Johns-Krull said.
There are relatively few candidate stars that are young enough, bright enough to view in sufficient detail with existing telescopes and still retain circumstellar disks of gas and dust from which planets form.
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Stars so young also are often active, with visual outbursts and dimmings, strong magnetic fields and enormous starspots that can make it appear that planets exist where they do not.