New Planet Discovered 300 Light-Years Away; Possible Gas Giant

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By Justin Sarachik, Christian Post Reporter
June 4, 2013|9:51 am

Scientists have discovered a never-before-seen alien planet just 300 light years away.

The improbable length of 300 light years, or 3.7 billion round trip flights to the moon, was observed orbiting a star of that distance.

This planet may be the smallest foreign world seen outside of the solar system, according to Fox News.

A photo was released Monday by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) depicting the new planet as a bright blue dot next to it's star, HD 95086. The planet, HD 95086 b, is suspected to be a gas giant, much like our outer four planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

ESO, based in Chile, used their massive telescope to spot the celestial object, and believe it is only four or five times larger than Jupiter based on the brightness.

"Direct imaging of planets is an extremely challenging technique that requires the most advanced instruments, whether ground-based or in space," Julien Rameau, an astronomer at the Institute of Astrophysics and Planetology in France and head of the study announcing the discovery, said in a statement. "Only a few planets have been directly observed so far, making every single discovery an important milestone on the road to understanding giant planets and how they form."

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The planet is said to be very far from it's star, covering about twice the distance of Neptune to the Sun, reported Fox. HD95086 is theorized to be between 10 million and 17 million years old– a young star by scientists standards.

"[The planet's] current location raises questions about its formation process," Anne-Marie Lagrange, a member of Rameau's team, said in a statement. "It either grew by assembling the rocks that form the solid core and then slowly accumulated gas from the environment to form the heavy atmosphere, or started forming from a gaseous clump that arose from gravitational instabilities in the disc. Interactions between the planet and the disc itself or with other planets may have also moved the planet from where it was born."

Follow Justin on Twitter - @JSarachik_BRMag
 

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