A second exoplanet has been discovered circling Beta Pictoris, a fledgling star in our own galaxy offering astronomers a rare glimpse of a planetary system in the making, according to a study published Monday.
“We talking about a giant planet about 3,000 times more massive than Earth, situated 2.7 times further from its star than the Earth is from the Sun,” said Anne-Marie Lagrange, an astronomer at France’s National Centre for Scientific Research and lead author of a study in Nature Astronomy.
The new planet, B Pictoris c, completes its orbit roughly every 1,200 days. It is a gassy giant, much like its big sister B Pictoris b.
The star around which both exoplanets orbit is with the naked eye. Beta Pictoris is twice as large as our sun and is much younger. Beta Pictoris is only 23 million years old. The Sun is more than 4.5 billion years old.
It is also relatively nearby, just over 63 light-years away and is surrounded by a disk of stellar dust.
Observations show that the two planets are still taking shape.
B Pictoris c was discovered by analyzing 10-years’ worth of high-resolution data obtained with instruments at the La Silla Observatory in northern Chile, run by the intergovernmental European Southern Observatory.