The youngest planet outside our solar system which is fully formed has been discovered, according to a study published in the latest edition of Nature Magazine. The discovery was made with the orbital telescope Kepler, the telescope used by NASA to search for new planets outside our solar system. This discovery provides new information about the stages of the formation of planets, according to Nature Magazine.
Size similar to Neptune
This young exoplanet, which is called K2-33b, has similar dimensions to those of the planet Neptune and an estimated age between 5 and 10 million years. According to NASA, this exoplanet is located at a very small distance from its star and it completes its period of revolution in just five days. The parent star of this planet is located at a distance of 500 light years from Earth.
Planet very close to its star
The planet is ten times closer to the star than the planet Mercury to the Sun. The small distance between K2-33b and its parent star makes astronomers consider new theories about the formation of planets. Usually "old" planets are observed in their orbits closer to their parent stars. Astronomers find unusual the fact that such a young planet like K2-33b is so close to its star. The observations in infrared made by the Spitzer #Space Telescope shows that the star of this planet is still surrounded by a protoplanetary disk where other planets can also form.
Anne Marie Cody from NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California, who participated in this study said that initially, this disc made of matter and cosmic dust can hide the existence of other already formed or forming planets, but after millions of years the dust will dissipate and the new planetary system will become visible.
Another planet that could support life?
A year ago NASA announced the discovery of a planet and a star very similar to the Earth and the Sun. This planet, called Kepler-452b, would be aged about 6 billion years, according to astronomers. This is 1.5 billion years older than the Sun and the Earth. According to NASA, the Kepler-452 star has a diameter of only 10% larger than the Sun, but it has the same temperature. This discovery was even more important as that planet is at the right distance from its star in order to support liquid water on its surface -- a necessary condition for the existence of life as we know it.