An alien planet found has people looking to the skies this week, as an immense planet surprises astronomers and experts alike due to its sheer size and distance. The huge model, discovered orbiting a remote star at over 650 times our own Earth-Sun distance, has been named HD 106906 b and is providing us valuable insight into new planet formation hypotheses, RT News confirms this Monday, Dec. 9, 2013.
The alien planet found is tentatively being called HD 106906 b, and early estimates believe that it weighs a full 11 times Jupiter’s mass, offering a glimpse of the model’s truly immense size. It also orbits its home star at an unbelievable 60 billion miles, which is by and far the greatest distance any other known planet can orbit a star.
Despite its recent discovery, HD 106906 b is something that U.S. experts and astronomers know is something special, and quite different from any other planet (“alien” or not) we’ve experienced in the past.
“This system is especially fascinating because no model of either planet or star formation fully explains what we see,” said Vanessa Bailey, the team’s lead researcher with the University of Arizona's astronomy department said on the surprising find in a press release.
It is believed that most planets, like that of Earth, are created through the eventual merging of smaller asteroids and similar space bodies. These individual “bodies” were themselves created from heavy elements and gases that endured following the sun’s formation in flattening and fusing them through gravity.
Yet models like the alien planet found this year, HD 106906 b, shed a unique light on this formation process, and are raising both answers and questions. Since this former process would be too slow for planets with a mass so massive, a new hypothesis this immense planet is making scientists post is this:
“A binary star system can be formed when two adjacent clumps of gas collapse more or less independently to form stars, and these stars are close enough to each other to exert a mutual gravitation attraction and bind them together in an orbit,” Bailey said.
“It is possible that in the case of the huge HD 106906 system the star and planet collapsed independently from clumps of gas, but for some reason the planet's progenitor clump was starved for material and never grew large enough to ignite and become a star,” she added.
Astronomers are looking forward to learning more about this surprising alien planet, and what this immense mass may mean for future models in space study.