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Youngest Planet Discovered 182

qazsedcft writes "BBC is reporting that Astronomers have discovered what appears to be the youngest planet, being less than 2000 years old. If this proves to be true it could challenge our models of solar system formation."
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Youngest Planet Discovered

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  • Newborn planet! Don't tell me nobody brought flowers...
  • by evolvearth ( 1187169 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @10:33AM (#22940252)
    It's about a thousand year's shy of being middle aged. After all, the earth is approximately 6000 years old.
    • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @11:03AM (#22940500) Journal
      I'd been thinking "For once, an astronomy story where we won't be subjected to a stream of 'But the earth is 6000 years old!' comments!"

      I underestimated you guys -- it'd be like anything Google-related not having ten "Steve Balmer through another chair!" posts.

      • by Tesen ( 858022 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @11:38AM (#22940796)
        In a related story, Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer threw multiple chairs after he heard of the newly discovered "young" planet. Steve was quoted as saying, "I bet freaking google has already tried to map the fucker! ".
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Grishnakh ( 216268 )
        Slashdotters will quit with the 6000-year-old earth comments just as soon as the hordes of Bible thumpers stop trying to convince everyone that that is really true.

        Since the Bible thumpers are actually growing in number, don't expect that to happen any time soon.
      • I'd pay good money to see Steve Balmer through another chair :P
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by arminw ( 717974 )
        ....But the earth is 6000 years old!' comments!".....

        If a planet can form out there somewhere in only 2000 or less years, might it then not be possible to get one done in three times as long?
        • by vistic ( 556838 )
          Uhhh... yeah. That pretty much goes without saying. Or are you under the impression they found highly evolved life and geographical features on this 2000 year old planet?

          A 2000 year old planet *probably* isn't very hospitable to life yet. Just my guess.
          • by arminw ( 717974 )
            ....A 2000 year old planet *probably* isn't very hospitable to life yet. Just my guess....

            I would guess that also. Still such a short formation time of any kind of planet, habitable or not, is evidence against some present theories of planet formation.
        • Wow, does what you just wrote actually make sense to you?

          First, no one claimed it formed in 2000 years, they claimed it's 2000 years old, which means that 2000 years ago it crossed some kind of semantic barrier that switched it from being a ball of compact space debris to something we should call a planet.

          Second, the people who believe the earth was created ~6000 years ago also believe that it was created in what was it, three days?
    • by sorak ( 246725 )

      It's about a thousand year's shy of being middle aged. After all, the earth is approximately 6000 years old.

      Yeah, but it's a "young earth". In another 6000 years, it's going to buy a trans-am and start flirting with 6000 year-old planets.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by capnchicken ( 664317 )
        That's what Earth loves about these gaseous planetary clouds. Earth gets older, they stay the same age.
    • by mcmonkey ( 96054 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @12:36PM (#22941328) Homepage
      Every year you get older, they stay the same age.
    • by binpajama ( 1213342 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @12:59PM (#22941526)
      Won't it be getting close to the Flood for those poor folks? Maybe we could bundle our tele-evangelists into a spaceship and send them there to spread salvation. The horrors of Earth must not be repeated elsewhere.
      • Well I was thinking we'll send our greatest thinkers, our greatest warriors and all our televangelists in 3 seperate ships. Of course the televangelists' ship will go first, to avoid being eaten by the great space goat...
    • by mgblst ( 80109 )
      Well, lets all hope that the Earth isn't at the end of its lifespan just yet.
  • Magratheans (Score:5, Funny)

    by JeepFanatic ( 993244 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @10:34AM (#22940268)
    Maybe it's just the Magrathean's hard at work? Are there any white holes nearby for the collection of raw materials?
  • by gardyloo ( 512791 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @10:38AM (#22940304)
    From the submission on slashdot:

    If this proves to be true it could challenge our models of solar system formation.
    In the article it states that the [computer] models seem to be such a good fit to what they're seeing, that it "may actually be what happens in nature" [my paraphrase]. OK, fine. How is this any different that what's been thought for the last 30 years? Disk of swirling stuff: check. Some small inhomogeneities which get gravitationally amplified: check. Perturbing, passing massive things: check. What challenge?
    • by truthsearch ( 249536 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @10:46AM (#22940374) Homepage Journal
      The submitter was referring to time frame, I believe. Usually the disc is millions of years old before planets form (as far as we know). This one is thought to be less than 100,000 years old. However, another start flying by 1600 years ago might be an extenuating circumstance.
    • by mcvos ( 645701 )

      What challenge?

      It might challenge our models of solar system formation. Or it might not. Depending on what scientists find out if they examine this thing a bit more.

      • by maxch ( 1264500 )
        it also might kill us all, or maybe a race of evil zombies might be evolutionizing on it. It also might be the replica of earth built by aliens to practice the invasion.
        • if they can build a replica, what the hell do they need the original for? if they are that advanced they've got far more resources than earth could provide (unless they need slaves)
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @11:03AM (#22940504)
      There really is an open controversy in the field regarding whether the gravitational instability model or the core accretion model is appropriate for large planets. Instability occurs very quickly and tends to produce big planets (the disc just clumps); accretion takes a long time and tends to build smaller planets (things have to hit and stick).

      Most astronomers believe that core accretion is correct, but there's a significant numerical astrophysics community who believes the instability model. Arguments tend to be about how cold the disc needs to be for the mechanism to work.

      The discovery of large early planets strengthens the evidence for the instability model.

      However, if I'm reading right, the 1600 yr timescale is mostly could-it-be speculation. Haven't read the underlying paper yet though.

      IANA.. oh, wait. I actually am a planetary astrophysicist.
    • Apparently, the challenge is in writing a decent summary of the article. Of course, it is possible the submitter didn't even bother to RTFA.

      Of course, it could be just sensationalism running wild. That could *never* happen on /., right?
      • Actually, the submitter did bother to read the article, and also did bother reading the replies. Perhaps my headline was a bit sensational, but I didn't have much time to write a decent summary being at work.

        Of course, what did I expect? /. readers actually RTFA and commenting on that, or making sarcastic comments about the headline. That could never happen on /., right?
  • Inquiring minds really want to know. And so does Planet Weekly magazine.
    • It's not me. I swear!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jd ( 1658 )
      I asked Asterix. He heard something about it being By Jupiter.
    • From the TFA:

      Intriguingly, another young star in the same region called XZ Tau may have made a close pass of HL Tau about 1,600 years ago.
      Apparently, the pass XZ Tau made was more than just "close".
      He was last seen fleeing through the constellation of Taurus at the speed of light in order to avoid paying alimony.
      Apparently... HZ Tau is also already married. []
  • by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @10:42AM (#22940328) Journal
    This astronomy child porn has to stop! Before you know it, these 'astronomers' will be cruising the galaxy trying to probe every new planet they find!
  • by Mr.Fork ( 633378 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [ydder.j.drawde]> on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @10:45AM (#22940360) Journal
    I think the article submitter/BBC has it wrong about changes to theories. Science is about discovery. How about this discovery introduces new wonders of our universe? Imagine - being able to even detect a plant and then determine that is even 2000 years old - that is the real story!
  • by joeflies ( 529536 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @10:45AM (#22940362)
    Youngest KNOWN Planet Discovered
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )
      NO Shit.
    • by MobileTatsu-NJG ( 946591 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @12:05PM (#22941006)

      Youngest KNOWN Planet Discovered
      That's implied by the word... DISCOVERED.
      • "est" says that it is the absolute and there are no planets younger than it, known or unknown. The modifier of known clarifies this statement, because we do not know if this particular planet is the absolute youngest planet in existence. Only the youngest one known to us. The only way this is true is if there is a definition for what defines when a planet is formed and at this very second it can be proven there are no others. Obviously this cannot be done. Thus, both Known and Discovered are necessary
        • "est" says that it is the absolute and there are no planets younger than it, known or unknown.
          Right, that's why the word 'discovered' is important. If we're discovering things, then 'known' is redundant.
  • by TripMaster Monkey ( 862126 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @10:45AM (#22940366)
    From TFA (emphasis mine):

    But there is an intriguing suggestion that the gas giant, which is some 14 times the size of our Jupiter, could be even younger.

    And this celestial body is still in the process of formation. It's possible that it will pick up enough extra mass to push it over the approximately 75 Jupiter-masses threshold and initiate fusion, becoming a star in its own right. We may be witnessing the birth of a binary star system.
    • And I think, "wow! how cool would that be, for humanity to be able to watch a binary star form!" Except for the follow-up thought which is that none of us will actually be around to watch it happen...this 'stellar timescale' thing sucks. I wanna go back to the beta days, seems like things were happening a lot faster back when this 'universe' project was just getting started...
      • Yeah, but things just seemed to happen faster in beta; it was really an informal continuation of alpha, but labeled in a way so as to make the marketing guys think we were actually making headway and fixing bugs. We actually skipped beta and just went RTM.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jd ( 1658 )
      Gas giant planets contain heavy elements which - if you try to fuse them - will take more heat than they release. I can't see how you'd ever reach either ignition or self-sustaining conditions. Now, there ARE gas supergiant planets that are larger than small stars. Some were accused of being mis-identified brown dwarfs*. I think this find makes it very likely supergiant planets do indeed exist.

      (Brown dwarfs are easy to mis-identify, unlike white dwarfs, which carry warhammer adverts.)

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by swimsaturn ( 1239646 )

      But there is an intriguing suggestion that the gas giant, which is some 14 times the size of our Jupiter, could be even younger.
      That is a very good point. 14 Jupiter masses is very close to the lower mass limit for temporary deuterium fusion. It will end up being a brown dwarf, not a planet. The 75 Jupiter mass threshold is for sustained hydrogen fusion (a star).
      • That seems like such an arbitrary unit of measurement.

        Let's go with SI units here, people. We are looking at no fewer than 1.6953x10^27 Volkswagen Beetles.
  • From TFA... (Score:5, Funny)

    by SimonGhent ( 57578 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @10:48AM (#22940390)

    According to one model, planets form from the bottom up

    So that would be turtle first, then elephants, then the flat bit.

    Makes sense.

    (apologies for reading TFA, I'm new here)
  • by AbsoluteXyro ( 1048620 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @10:50AM (#22940412)
    According to the article, the proto-planet is 100,000 years old. It MIGHT be around 2,000 years old but there is no way to confirm that. It is more likely that the age of the proto-planet is more in line with the age of the star at 100,000 years. [] also reports that this planet is 100,000 years old. -- "The group, led by Jane Greaves of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, found the 100,000-year-old fetal planet about 520 light-years away in the constellation Taurus "The new object, designated HL Tau b, is the youngest planetary object ever seen," said Anita Richards, an astronomer at the U.K. Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics. Richards, who worked with Greaves' team to describe the infant planet, said it's just 1 percent as old as the young planet found in orbit around the star TW Hydrae last year."
  • by whtmarker ( 1060730 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @10:51AM (#22940426) Homepage
    I think Captain Planet is the youngest planet alive. source []
  • "The ball of dust and gas, which is in the process of turning into a Jupiter-like giant, was detected around the star HL Tau, by a UK team." Well, then... it's obvious the planet is being formed for The Greater Good through advanced technology. We can disregard the data, it's not a natural planetary formation.
  • Bah, I bet it is just a (galaxy) fed pretending to be young. :p
  • You have to take into account how many light years away it is, for all I know it could be older than the earth it just looks younger. Maybe I can sell a new beauty product for women, all they have to do is move so many light years away that they actually look younger than they really are, I'm sure someone will buy it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MBGMorden ( 803437 )

      You have to take into account how many light years away it is, for all I know it could be older than the earth it just looks younger.

      I'm going to assume (maybe erroneously) that only the second half of your post was a joke.

      As to the quote portion above, if Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and they see this as 2000 years old, then it's going to have to be 4.5+ billion light years away to actually BE older than Earth. That's significantly outside of the galaxy so no way we'd pick it up.

    • Planet is ~520 light years away. Pretty easy to do the math from there.

      So the answer to your question is: No it's not older.
  • by spike2131 ( 468840 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @11:35AM (#22940768) Homepage
    That planet better get off my lawn!

  • Did BBC get slashdoted ? It loads awfully slow.

    If the discovery can "challenge our models of solar system formation", how did they compute the age of the planet ? Wasn't that computation dependent on the current "models of solar system formation" ?
  • Wonder how Velikovsky would have taken this news? []
  • This little guy has his stuff together, knows how to consolidate disparate parts, and is on the ball!

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