Pink planet challenges planet formation theories
|August 9, 2013||Posted by News under Exoplanets, News|
It’s a pleasant summer evening …
We have irritated all the neighbours we possibly can with the vast flock of plastic flamingoes out in the flower beds and on the drive. We have made our point.*
So now it is time to invite everyone around for pink lemonade and unveil … the pink planet:
About 57 light years from Earth, astronomers have discovered a large new planet, colored a deep magenta. It’s the second planet whose color has been directly observed by astronomers, the first being HD 189733b. That alone would make this find noteworthy. But equally noteworthy is the fact that the planet itself challenges current theories of planetary formation.
This planet, GJ 504b, is about the size of Jupiter, but has several times its mass. It’s actually so far the smallest planet that’s ever been directly imaged with a telescope, rather than being observed by eclipsing its parent star.
Not a hoax, apparently. The Weather Channel says,
“This is among the hardest planets to explain in a traditional planet-formation framework,” Markus Janson, a member of the team that discovered GJ 504b, said in a NASA press release. “Its discovery implies that we need to seriously consider alternative formation theories, or perhaps to reassess some of the basic assumptions in the core-accretion theory.”
The relative youth of the planet and its solar system are also of interest to NASA, according to Michael McElwain, a member of the discovery team. In fact, according to McElwain, the planet’s age is directly responsible for that odd fuchsia hue.