Pink Planet Discovery Challenges Planetary Formation Theories

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NASA scientists have discovered a new pink planet, which is located about 57 light years from Earth. It is the smallest planet that has ever been directly imaged with a telescope and the new discovery challenges current theories of planetary formation.

The new planet, known as GJ 504b, was described as being “reminiscent of a dark cherry blossom, a dull magenta,” by NASA scientist Michael McElwain, according to The Inquisitr.

GJ 504b was imaged using infrared data collected from the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii and the planet’s temperature is reported to be 460 degrees Fahrenheit.

Scientists say the extreme distance that GJ 504b sits from its sun is changing their conception of how giant planets form. Scientists have used the core-accretion model in which planets like Jupiter form from the gas-rich debris disks that surround a young star. Move outside of 30AU – the distance that Jupiter is from our sun – and the core-accretion model begins to fall apart.

However, GJ504b is sitting at a distance much further away from its star than Neptune does ours.

“This is among the hardest planets to explain in a traditional planet-formation framework,” said researcher Markus Janson in a press release, according to Forbes. “Its discovery implies that we need to seriously consider alternative formation theories, or perhaps to reassess some of the basic assumptions in the core-accretion theory.”

NASA reports the coloring of GJ504b is indicative of its young age with its solar system estimated to be just 160 million years old.

Full results from the new planet’s discovery will reportedly be available in the upcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

Sources: The Inquisitr, Forbes