It's a big discovery that could result in a better understanding on the evolution of planets and their host stars.
Scientists may have discovered the youngest planet ever detected.
A Neptune-sized planet located 500 light years from Earth may be the youngest fully formed exoplanet yet found, and the star it is orbiting is incredibly young as well, according to a California Institute of Technology statement.
The planet is incredibly close to its star — which is just 5 to 10 million years old — fully orbiting the star every five days.
It’s the youngest planet ever spotted. Our own planet is 4.5 billion years old.
Out of the 3,000 confirmed planets discovered so far, most of them are at least 1 billion years old. It’s rare to see a planet so early in its development.
NASA used the Kepler space telescope to detect the planet by spotting the star dimming and brightening periodically, indicating a planet is passing in front of it.
“At 4.5 billion years old, the Earth is a middle-aged planet–about 45 in human-years,” says Trevor David, the first author on the paper and a graduate student working with professor of astronomy Lynne Hillenbrand. “By comparison, the planet K2-33b would be an infant of only a few weeks old.
“Astronomers know that star formation has just completed in this region, called Upper Scorpius, and roughly a quarter of the stars still have bright protoplanetary disks,” David says. “The remainder of stars in the region do not have such disks, so we reasoned that planet formation must be nearly complete for these stars, and that there would be a good chance of finding young exoplanets around them.”