Scientists Discovered A Baby Planet That's Already Dying

Brilliance | Dec. 14, 2017

We've got good news and bad news. The good news is that scientists just discovered the youngest planet they've ever seen. The bad news is that it's not long for this universe. The baby planet is slowly dying.

Hey Little Guy!

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."

We Barely Knew Ye

Don't get too attached to our young friend PTFO8-8695 b. That tight orbit is also incredibly rapid at only 11 hours. That creates 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. Poor little fella.

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