Newborn Planet Found Orbiting Young Star

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Larger planets are easier to detect, because their influence isn't as easily drowned out by the activity of the star itself, such as sunspots.

Thus, today's list of exoplanets contains many more Jupiter-size bodies than Earth-size ones.

What's more, astronomers using the radial velocity technique to search for other worlds have often shunned young stars.

"They are very active stars, and the signature of the planet would be obscured by the signature of starspots, et cetera," Setiawan explained.

"If one wants to find a planet easily and quickly, she or he will avoid young stars."

But young planets are increasingly hot targets for study because of what they can teach scientists about planet formation.

Mysterious Movement

Marina Romanova, an astrophysicist at Cornell University, said the newfound planet may indeed shed light on how planets take shape and migrate.

"[It] is an important test point for checking theoretical and numerical models of such processes," she said.

Jack Lissauer, of the NASA Ames Research Center, was a co-discoverer in 2005 of a more Earthlike planet near the star Gliese 876 in the constellation Aquarius.

He agreed that it's "nice to have observational confirmation" of a new planet around a young star.

"However, I do think that the authors have substantially underestimated the uncertainties in the mass of the object," he said.

In his opinion, the body could turn out to be as massive as a brown dwarf or as puny as just a few Jupiters rather than ten.

Setiawan, lead author of the new study, said there's another mystery about the newly discovered planet.

The body orbits very close to its host star, making the trip roughly every three and a half Earth days.

But there's another disruption in its parent star's movement that occurs on a slightly longer timescale, about once every nine days.

"There is still a mystery about the nine-day period," Setiawan said, noting that his team is already looking for an explanation.

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