A group of scientists from the University of Hawaii at Manoa reported the discovery of one of the youngest planets that can be observed directly. The object, called 2M0437b, expands the understanding of modern science regarding how planets form and change over time. The discovery will also help shed light on the origins of the Earth and the entire solar system.
According to scientists, the planet is several times more massive than Jupiter. It formed along with its star “only” a few million years ago, around the time the main Hawaiian Islands emerged above the ocean surface. The planet is so young that it still remains hot due to the energy that is released during its formation.
Planet 2M0437b was first seen by Japanese scientist Teruyuki Hirano using the Subaru telescope at the Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii. Further, for three years, various scientists observed her and her star, who were able to confirm that a pair of objects really belong to the same system. The system is located in the Taurus Cloud – it contains a star-forming region. 2M0437b is in a much wider orbit than the planets of the solar system: the planet is about 100 times farther from its star than the Earth is from the Sun.
A large orbit, of course, greatly simplifies observation. However, in order to make this discovery, it took the largest of the ground-based telescopes and “adaptive” optics to compensate for the distortions caused by the Earth’s atmosphere. Scientists hope that in the future, observation of the planet 2M0437b will be continued using the Hubble and James Webb orbiting telescopes – the launch of the latter is scheduled for December 18, 2021.