Saturday, January 05, 2008

Another Exoplanet Defies Convention

A team of German scientists observing a star in the constellation Hydra found the youngest planet yet discovered, reports the London Times. The planet, TW Hydra b, is believed to have formed shortly after the star it circles, TW Hydra (180 million light years from Earth), started shining about 10 million years ago.

So far, the youngster is very active, but hasn’t strayed far from mom. Hydra b is orbiting just 3.7 million miles from its star (Earth is 93 million miles from the Sun), and covers its orbit in just 3.56 days.

While Hydra b surges through empty space near the star, a field of dust and gas stretches further out. The planet, which is 10-times the size of Jupiter seems to have cleared the space closest to the star.

As the TW Hydra system was forming 10 million years ago, chimpanzees were just splitting off from gorillas here on Earth, reports the Times. Dinosaurs had been extinct for 50 million years by then.

Previously, the youngest planet discovered was 100 million years old. Earth is believed to be 4.5 billion years old.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.