Youngest extra-solar planet found

Washington: The youngest extra-solar planet, six times the mass of Jupiter — 1.9×1027 kg, has been discovered.

The giant planet named BD+20 1790b is only 35 million years old and orbits a young active central star at a distance closer than Mercury orbits the sun.

An international team of astronomers led by Dr Maria Cruz Galvez-Ortiz and Dr John Barnes from University of Hertfordshire made the discovery.

The planet is situated 83 light years away from the earth and is the youngest planet orbiting a star of a similar size to our sun.

Only one young planet, aged 100 million years, was previously known but the newly-discovered planet is about three times younger, the astronomers said.

Young stars are usually excluded from planet searches because they have intense magnetic fields that generate a range of phenomena known collectively as stellar activity, including flares and spots.

This activity can mimic the presence of a companion and so can make extremely difficult to disentangle the signals of planets and activity, journal Astronomy and Astrophysics stated.

Describing how the planet was discovered, Galvez-Ortiz said: “The planet was detected by searching for very small variations in the velocity of the host star, caused by the gravitational tug of the planet as it orbits — the so-called “Doppler wobble technique”.

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