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A young and strange super-Jupiter challenges theories of planet formation

A newly discovered planet has the diameter of Jupiter but eight times its mass, giving it twice the density of Earth despite being composed mostly of gas. Not only have these characteristics of this “super Jupiter” puzzled astronomers, but they could also challenge current theories about planet formation.

The exoplanetwhich lies about 310 light-years outside the solar system in the constellation Centaurus, orbits around a sun star and is only 15 million years old, making it a relative child in cosmic terms and compared to our 4.6 billion year old planet. A team of astronomers have been able to measure both the diameter and the mass of this gas giant – nicknamed “super Jupiter” because it is more massive than its solar system namesake – making it the youngest such planet for which such measures have never been made.

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