Show Details

Far-Out Mega Planet

December 25, 2013

An enormous planet, orbiting a star at a tremendous distance, challenges theories of planet formation.



A planet like no other. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

This is an artist's conception of a young planet in a distant orbit around its host star NASA JPL

Artist’s conception of the distant planet. (NASA/JPL)

An enormous gas planet, orbiting a star 300 light-years away, is upending assumptions about how planets form. University of Arizona graduate student Vanessa Bailey led the team that made the discovery. She says the planet is eleven times the size of Jupiter, has a surface temperature of about 2700 degrees Fahrenheit, and orbits its star at 650 times the distance from the Earth to the Sun.

And to date, that’s the most distantly orbiting planet that’s ever been found around a single Sun-like star.

In fact, no current theory of planet formation can account for a planet this huge forming so far away from a star. Studying the planet more closely will help scientists revise their models. Luckily, it’s a relatively bright planet, and its extreme distance from the star makes it easier for telescopes to isolate an image. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.