Giant Planet Found Orbiting Young Star

Jun 1, 2016

Three Flagstaff astronomers are part of a team that’s found a giant planet orbiting a surprisingly young star. Before this discovery, scientists believed big planets could only form around old stars.

A group of T Tauri stars in the constellation of Taurus.
Credit Adam Block, Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter, UA

Astronomers observed the star in the constellation of Taurus from telescopes in Arizona, Texas and Hawaii. A tiny wobble indicated the existence of an orbiting planet.

It’s at least eight times the size of Jupiter and zips around its star every nine days.

The star is young—only two million years old. Researchers previously thought a star had to be ten million years old to have a planet this big.

The new planet is one of more than 3,000 known exoplanets. The unusual discovery could help scientists understand how planets form.  

The discovery was announced last week in The Astrophysical Journal.