Science News

Baby Jupiter Discovered By The Gemini Planet Imager

51 Eridani b, also known as 51 Eri b, was recently detected by the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI), an instrument designed to analyze and image planets beyond our own solar system.

51 Eri b has not been nicknamed “Baby Jupiter” for its size. The planet actually has twice the mass of our own Jupiter. Rather, it is one of the youngest celestial balls on our galactic block. At only 20 million years old, 51 Eri b is rich in methane and enjoys temperatures of about 800 degrees, which is quite cold for a planet. Investigator Bruce Macintosh explained that the planet could have formed similarly to Jupiter, according to Fusion. This could possibly enable earthlings to discover the origin events of their own solar system. Perhaps we might be able to confirm that super-earths were indeed destroyed by our much larger planetary neighbor.

TIME noted that 51 Eri b is 100 lightyears from earth and reported that “the planet’s similarities to our Jupiter, as well as a pair of nearby dust belts similar to those found near Earth, indicate that 51 Eri b’s solar system may in many ways be similar to a younger version of Earth’s solar system.”

51 Eri b’s solar system may in many ways be similar to a younger version of Earth’s solar system.

51 Eri b is the exoplanet with the lowest mass ever imaged and is one of the youngest stars not far from our own sun, in terms of space geography at least.

The GPI used to image 51 Eri b is similar to the well-known Kepler space telescope which has discovered thousands of stars much more distant that this so-called “Baby Jupiter.” Since 51 Eri b is the first exoplanet found by the GPI, the high-power instrument is already showing plenty of early promise for space researchers. It has the capacity to locate and analyze planets that are quite far from their own stars.

Of course, much of space exploration, especially when done from the comfort of our own planet, is speculation, but discoveries such as that of 51 Eri b help us inch closer to understanding our astrological origins.

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