Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Astronomers directly observe one of the youngest planets to date

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This article first show on engadget

Astronomers have spotted young planets before, but rarely this young — or with such easy observation. As CBS News says, a University of Hawaii-led team has discovered 2M0437b, one of the youngest planets ever found at ‘just’ several million years old. The baby planet was found in the Taurus Cloud “nursery” and young enough that it’s still emanating lava-like heat from its birth.

Importantly, this is also a very rare chance at directly observing an infant world. Researchers will still need to use special optics to compensate for Earth’s atmosphere, but they won’t have to use the host star or other tricks to study the planet. It helps that 2M0437b is about one hundred times further from its star than Earth is from the Sun, reducing the chances for interference.

The scientists first spotted the planet in 2018 using the Subaru Telescope, but spent the next three years using the Keck Observatory and other Hawaii telescopes to track the planet and confirm it was tied to its host.

Future observations could shed more light on planetary formation. It might not take much longer to glean more details, either. The team hoped the imminent James Webb Space Telescope could help detect atmospheric gases and newly forming moons. As significant as 2M0437b might be now, it could be more important going forward.

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This article first show on engadget
Author Jon Fingas on date 2021-10-24 18:07:12 Engadget is a multilingual technology blog network with daily coverage of gadgets and consumer electronics. Engadget operates a total of ten blogs—four written in English and six international versions with independent editorial staff.

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