K2-33b Is the Youngest Exoplanet Ever Discovered

K2-33b Is the Youngest Exoplanet Ever Discovered
Source: NASA
Source: NASA

Astronomers just found the youngest exoplanet ever detected.

Dubbed K2-33b, the planet is just 5 to 10 million years old, according to NASA. To put that into perspective, the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old. Its age makes K2-33b one of just a handful of newborn exoplanets we've discovered.

Source: YouTube

"The newborn planet will help us better understand how planets form, which is important for understanding the processes that led to the formation of Earth," Erik Petigura, co-author on the new study describing the planet, said in a statement.

Astronomers estimate the planet is a little larger than Neptune, and it's locked into a tight orbit around its star. It only takes about five days for the planet to complete a lap. That's about 10 times closer than Mercury is to the sun.

How the K2-33 system compares to our solar system.
Source: NASA

Astronomers aren't sure how planets end up so close to their stars. Some think it takes millions of years for them to migrate into such a tight orbit. But K2-33b's young age is proof that can't always be the case.

"The question we are answering is: Did those planets take a long time to get into those hot orbits, or could they have been there from a very early stage?" Trevor David, lead author on the study, said in the statement. "We are saying, at least in this one case, that they can indeed be there at a very early stage."

Source: YouTube

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