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World's youngest planet discovered

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An international team of astronomers has discovered the world’s youngest gas giant planet, which is five times younger than the previous record holder.

The newly discovered planet named LkCa 15 b after its star, has been started to take shape about 50,000 to 100,000 years ago, Discovery News reported.

Dr. Adam Kraus of the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy spotted the planet using the telescopes on Mauna Kea Island and in collaboration with Dr. Michael Ireland from Macquarie University and the Australian Astronomical Observatory.

Scientists had not been able to see such young planets before because their parent solar systems’ light outshines them.

To find LkCa 15 b, scientists used mirrors to cancel out the starlight and see discs of dust near the planet.

By applying the 10m Keck telescopes scientists found that the planet orbits inside a disk of material around the star that is no more than two million years old while the astronomers estimate the solar system to be 4.6 billion years old.

“The planet would probably appear a deep red to our eye, since it’s still glowing from the heat of being formed,” Kraus said.

Kraus and his team plan to continue observing LkCa 15b to obtain the details about its temperature and orbital characteristics, such as the shape and orientation of its path around the star.

The team also hopes to develop the search to other stars that have surrounding disks with gaps to find the answer to some basic questions about early planet formation.


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