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Astronomers spot less than 2,000 years old planet

Posted on Saturday, April 05 2008 @ 20:11:49 CEST by

A UK team of scientists have found a planet that could be less than 2,000 years old. The planet is a ball of dust and gas, which is in the process of becoming a Jupiter-like giant. It was detected around HL Tau, a star 520 light years away in the constellation of Tauras and thought to be less than 100,000 years old.
The disc is unusually massive and bright, making it an excellent place to search for signs of planets in the process of formation.

The researchers say their picture is one of a proto-planet still embedded in its birth material.

Dr Greaves, from the University of St Andrews, Scotland, said the discovery of a forming planet around such a young star was a major surprise.

"It wasn't really what we were looking for. And we were amazed when we found it," she told BBC News.

"The next youngest planet confirmed is 10 million years old."

If the proto-planet is assumed to be the same age as the star it orbits, this would be some one hundred times younger than the previous record holder.
More info at BBC News.



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