NASA scientists discover baby planet

NASA scientists have discovered what may be one of the youngest planets known to man.

NASA scientists have discovered what may be one of the youngest planets known to man.

The infrared Spitzer Space Telescope identified the planet which is thought to be a million years old, meaning it is a mere baby.

The object is in the constellation Taurus, 420 light-years away.

Until now the youngest known planets observed are several billion years old.

The Earth and the rest of the solar system are four and a half billion years old.

Astronomer Ed Churchwell, of the University of Wisconsin, said the discoveries “knocked our socks off”.

While the Spitzer did not see the actual body of the planet, it provided scientists with enough evidence to demonstrate its existence.

University of Rochester astronomer Dan Watson said a sharply-defined hole in the middle of the disk suggests that a planet created the opening.

That gaseous planet would have been formed sometime since the star’s formation.

Other experts warned that they could be witnessing an asteroid formation or simply dusty heat and light expelled by a star formation.

But even the sceptics conceded that it is likely to be a planet.

Future missions into space should settle the debate.

Among Spitzer’s other findings are 300 star formations in one region in the constellation Centaurus, 13,700 light years away.

“It’s kind of blown our minds,” Churchwell said.

Spitzer is the fourth and final spacecraft in NASA’s Great Observatory series, which began with Hubble and continued with the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, now gone, and the Chandra X-ray Observatory.

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