Scientists from Rochester Institute of Technology recently discovered the nearest-known ‘baby giant planet’ called 2MASS 1155-7919 b. This massive newborn planet is closer to Earth, located in the Epsilon Chamaeleontis Association, and lies only about 330 light-years from our solar system.
The discovery offers an exciting new way to study how gas giants form.
Using data from Gaia space observatory, scientists detected a very young object that has only ten times the mass of Jupiter. The giant baby planet orbits a star- that is only about 5 million years old, about one thousand times younger than our sun- at 600 times the distance of the Earth to the sun.
Annie Dickson-Vandervelde, lead author and astrophysical sciences and technology Ph.D. student from West Columbia, S.C said, “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.”
“How this young, giant planet could have ended up so far away from its young “parent” star is a mystery. Follow-up imaging and spectroscopy will help astronomers understand how massive planets can end up in such wide orbits.”
Other co-authors of the study include Emily Wilson, an astrophysical sciences and technology Ph.D. student from King of Prussia, Pa., and Joel Kastner, a professor in RIT’s Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science and School of Physics and Astronomy.
The discovery is published in the Research Notes of the American Astronomical Society.