Scientists from the University of Hawaii at Manoa discovered the planet 2M0437b, which appeared five to two million years ago. According to astronomers, studying it will help provide some answers to the question of the origin of the solar system and the Earth. Details of the study are published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
The planet is located in the Taurus molecular cloud, which is also called the “stellar nursery”. It is located about 470 light-years from Earth and contains the star-forming region where scientists discovered a celestial body. As observations have shown, the moment of the emergence of 2M0437b coincided with the moment of the appearance of the first Hawaiian Islands: the age of the oldest of them is about five million years. Her temperature also speaks of her young age – 1400-1500 ℃. As the scientists explain, the planet is still hot from the energy released when it originated.
University of Hawaii professor and main author of the study, Eric Gaidos, made observations from the Keck Observatory, located at the peak of Mauna Kea. For three years, he and his team watched the position of the planet and the parent star change. This was necessary in order to make sure that 2M0437b is indeed a companion of the star. Difficulties in observation were added not only by the slow speed of the planet’s movement, but also by the distance between it and the star, 100 times greater than the distance between the Earth and the Sun.
Eric Gaidos is confident that long-term studies will help calculate the orbit and find out the exact age and mass of 2M0437b. But this will require the best instruments.
“Observations through space telescopes such as the Hubble or the James Webb Telescope will be able to detect gases in the planet’s atmosphere and find out if it has a lunar disk,” he added.