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Youngest extra-solar planet discovered

NEW DELHI (BNS): Astronomers will now be able to gain more knowledge about the early stages of planet evolution with the discovery of the youngest extra-solar planet, which is about only 35 million years old.

The giant planet, six-times the mass of Jupiter, was discovered around a solar-type star, named BD+20 1790b and orbits a young active central star at a distance closer than Mercury orbits the Sun, according to a report by Science Daily.

The detection of young planets will allow the testing of formation scenarios and to investigate the early stages of planetary evolution as most planet-search surveys tend to target much older stars, with ages in excess of a billion years, the report said.

Only one young planet, with an age of 100 million years, was previously known. However, at only 35 million years, BD+20 1790b is approximately three times younger.

"The planet was detected by searching for very small variations in the velocity of the host star, caused by the gravitational tug of the planet as it orbits -- the so-called 'Doppler wobble technique,' said Dr Maria Cruz Gálvez-Ortiz from University of Hertfordshire.

“Overcoming the interference caused by the activity was a major challenge for the team, but with enough data from an array of large telescopes the planet's signature was revealed," Dr Maria added.

Young stars are usually excluded from planet searches because they have intense magnetic fields that generate a range of phenomena known collectively as stellar activity, including flares and spots. This activity can mimic the presence of a companion and so can make extremely difficult to disentangle the signals of planets and activity.

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