NASA Astronomers discovers a Neptune size planet ; 32 light years away from Earth

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A recent study at NASA reveals that there is a planet up to 58 times as big as the Earth and the size of Neptune, is about 32 light years away from the earth and completes an orbit every 8.5 days. It has been found around the young star AU Microscopic, a red dwarf which is 20 or 30 million years old - 180 times younger than the sun. The astronomers discovered this new planet using NASA's TESS (Translating Explanation Survey Satellite) and Spitzer telescopes.

TESS detected two dips in brightness in 2018 following which researchers turned to NASA's infrared Spitzer telescope in 2018 to confirm their findings of a planet. Previous data from the La Silla Observatory in Hawaii helped the scientists to confirm the results and resolve some of the planet's features.

The findings of the study have been published in the journal Nature in which researchers provide details about the findings - 'AU mic b is up to 58 times as massive as the Earth and is cLosely neighbouring with AU Microscopii, completing an orbit every 8.5 days. It's discovery is a boon for the planet hunters as the planet is so young, yielding astronomers a chance to comprehend planetary formation processes, including those that shaped our own solar system, and the evolution of planets over time.'

A report by EurekAlert depicts that AU Microscopic was found to be encompassed by a large dusty disc of debris in the 2000s. Astrophysicists have been looking for planets around the young star ever since. However not only the debris that surrounded the star proved as a difficulty for the scientists, but it's magnetic field also made their work complicated. These stormy stars possess strong magnetic field that frequently erupt powerful stellar flares.

AU Mic b is believed to be a gaseous planet and may even be losing some of it's atmosphere as it moves around it's star.

"This star probably hasn't had time to form small, rocky planets yet. It gives us a chance to get a picture of what might have happened before our own terrestrial planets like Earth and Venus formed" , said Tom Barclay, a scientist at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, in q press release.

AU Mic b is featured in a new NASA poster available in English and Spanish, part of a 'Galaxy of Horror' series. The series was produced by NASA's Exoplanet Exploration Program Office.