Scientists Discovered A Baby Planet That's Already Dying

Scientists Discovered A Baby Planet That's Already Dying

In their search for the galaxy's youngest planets, a team of astronomers at Rice University think they found one of the youngest ever: a potential planet roughly twice the mass of Jupiter orbiting a star that's only 2 million years old. (By comparison, the first members of the genus Homo, to which humans belong, appeared in the fossil record 2.8 million years ago.) The likely planet, named PTFO8-8695 b, has a gaseous composition and a very close orbit, which makes it a class of exoplanet known as a "hot Jupiter." That tight orbit is also incredibly rapid at only 11 hours, creating a deadly combination that lets the star's gravity strip away outer layers of the baby planet with each close encounter. Though the outlook isn't good for the planet, astronomers have no way of knowing whether and how quickly it will be destroyed.


Key Facts In This Video

  • 1

    It's possible that one of the youngest suspected planets in our galaxy is being slowly destroyed by its star. (0:01)

  • 2

    The star is estimated to be only 2 million years old. That's a fraction of the age of the Earth. (0:12)

  • 3

    The planet's orbit is only 11 hours long. (0:29)

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