Astronomers Perplexed by the Discovery of a New Planet This is Six Times Heavier than Jupiter

A giant planet orbiting at a great distance around a sun-like star has presented an enigma to astronomers, as it does not seem to match any of the two best-known models for the formation of large gaseous planets, according to a study. The planet – YSES 2b – is located 360 light-years from Earth toward the southern constellation Musca (Latin “The Fly”). The gas planet is six times heavier than Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system.

The newly discovered planet orbits 110 times farther from its star than the Earth from the sun (or 20 times the distance between the sun and Jupiter). The accompanying star is only 14 million years old and resembles our sun in its infancy, the scientists said.

“By exploring more Jupiter-like exoplanets in the near future, we will learn more about the formation processes of gas giants around sun-like stars,” said lead researcher Alexander Bohn of Leiden University in the Netherlands. The findings will appear in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.

If the planet were to grow in its current location away from the star by a core overgrowth, it would be too heavy because there is not enough material to create a huge planet at this great distance from the star, the team explained.

If the planet was created by so-called gravitational instability in the planetary disk, it appears to be not heavy enough. A third possibility is that the planet formed close to the star by a core overgrowth and then migrated outward. Such migration, however, would require the gravitational influence of a second planet, which the researchers have not yet found.

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