One of the youngest planets ever identified was discovered by an international research team led by the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The findings, which were published in the Royal Astronomical Society’s Monthly Notices, suggest that the planet is “a few times more massive” than Jupiter.The new planet was discovered in a “stellar nursery” and developed several million years ago, roughly when the main Hawaiian islands erupted from the ocean. The planet, known as 2M0437b, was discovered in 2018 circling a distant, baby star.
Since 2M0437b is so young, it is still hot from the energy created during its formation. The scientists said in a press release that its temperature is similar to the lava erupting from the Kīlauea Volcano.The Keck Observatory on Maunakea was used to watch the star 2M0437b orbits in order to confirm that it was a planet of that star rather than a distant object. Because the star travelled so slowly across the sky, it took three years for experts to confirm.
The planet’s discovery is especially exciting for astronomers because it is easy to see and it is so young, meaning scientists will be able to observe it for many years and learn more about how planets, including Earth, age. Mānoa Eric Gaidos,head author and professor at UH said that this serendipitous discovery adds to an elite list of planets that we can directly observe with our telescopes.