August 9, 2013
Pink Planet Discovered By Astronomers

A Pink Planet has been discovered by NASA scientists. The planet, dubbed GJ 504b, is the lowest-mass planet ever detected around a star using direct imaging techniques. The planet is located 57 light-years away. Based on estimates, the planet has four times the mass of Jupiter.

The planet orbits around star GJ 504, a star that is very similar to our own sun. The star can be seen by the naked eye in the constellation Virgo.

The photo shown above is an artist rendition of the plane,t which NASA scientist Michael McElwain describes as being "reminiscent of a dark cherry blossom, a dull magenta."

The planet is pretty cozy at 460 degrees Fahrenheit (237 Celsius) and orbits at a distance of 43.5 AU from its star or 43.5 times further than our own planet from our sun. In comparison, Neptune is 30AU from our sun and even Jupiter is 5AU.

The pink planet was imaged using infrared data collected from the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii.

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

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, and the core-accretion model begins to fall apart.

"This is among the hardest planets to explain in a traditional planet-formation framework. 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."

Full results from the discovery will be available in the upcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal.