AUG 14, 2015 2:44 PM PDT

Jupiter-Like Exoplanet Discovered 100 Light Years Away

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Despite the fact that our solar system is large, and full of planets, it’s hard to wrap our minds around the fact that the entire universe makes our solar system look laughably small. We continue to search the depths of the universe for clues about our existence, and in the middle of doing so, we occasionally find new stars, planets, and moons.
 
Scientists have recently discovered a planet 100 light years away that they’re saying is very similar to Jupiter, a planet right here in our solar system.

An artist's rendition of the newly-discovered Jupiter-like planet.
 
It was spotted with the Gemini Planet Imager, which is located in Chile and was created purely for searching for other planets in our universe; this is the first time that the Gemini Planet Imager has discovered a new planet. This is of course big news for the people who have created the new imaging telescope, as James Graham, a GPI project scientist will tell you:
 

"This is exactly the kind of planet we envisioned discovering when we designed GPI," Graham said. "We wanted to find planets when they're young so we can figure out the formation process."

 
They’ve named the planet 51 Eridani b, but the fact that it’s like Jupiter isn’t the only reason that it’s getting so much attention.
 
In fact, what scientists are interested in is the fact that the planet appears to be very young – just 20 million years old, which means the planet just came to be about 40 million years after the dinosaurs are thought to have died off right here on Earth.
 
To put into perspective just how much younger this planet really is than some of the planets here on our solar system, it’s worth noting that our sun is thought to be 4.5 billion years old.
 

"Only a handful of planets have been imaged like this so far, and they were each at least five times the mass of Jupiter, so it’s incredibly hard to do," Professor Bruce Macintosh of Stanford University notes. "Planets like Jupiter in our solar system are a billion times fainter than the sun, so planets are usually lost in the bright light from their star."

 
The high levels of methane gas in the newly-discovered planet’s atmosphere is intriguing to scientists, because it’s reportedly the highest amount of methane gas ever found in an exoplanet.
 
51 Eridani b is also said to be about twice the size of Jupiter, despite being much younger, and have a temperature of around 800 degrees Fahrenheit, which doesn’t exactly sound like the type of planet life like ours would like to live on.
 
Astronomers are hoping that because the planet is so young, they’ll be able to gather more clues about how it was formed that could help us to understand more about Jupiter and how it came to be.
 
Perhaps the Gemini Planet Imager will soon discover additional interesting planets somewhere in our universe.

Source: Discovery News

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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