An international research team led by the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa has discovered one of the youngest planets ever observed. The findings, published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, estimate the planet is a “few times more massive” than Jupiter.
The new planet was found in a “stellar nursery” and formed approximately several million years ago — around the same time that the main Hawaiian islands emerged from the ocean. Named 2M0437b, researchers first spotted the planet orbiting a remote, infant star in 2018.
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 Kīlauea Volcano.”
The Keck Observatory on Maunakea was used to track the star that 2M0437b orbits to confirm that it was actually a planet of that star and not an object that was farther away. It took researchers three years to confirm since the star moved so slowly across the sky.
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