A second exoplanet has been discovered around the star β Pictoris, a fairly young star given that it is only 23 million years old and can also be considered fairly close since it is “only” 63.4 light years away.
Precisely because it is a young star, Beta Pictoris is still surrounded by the disk of dust and various materials which, according to the most accredited theory concerning the formation of planets, represents the “source” of the material which then goes to form the same planets. For this reason, the β Pictoris system has fascinated astronomers in recent years as it is allowing them to observe a planetary system being formed.
The first planet around this star, β Pictoris b, was discovered as early as 2009. Ten years later, analyzing the data obtained with the HARPS tool of the ESO Observatory of La Silla in Chile, the researchers discovered a second planet, β Pictoris c. In both cases, these are two giant gas planets.
β Pictoris c has a mass nine times that of Jupiter and orbits around its star in about 1200 days. It is located relatively close to its star, if we consider the distance between the Sun and Jupiter.
β Pictoris c is in fact separated from the star by a distance that is similar to the one that separates the Sun from the belt of asteroids, which is a little beyond Mars. β Pictoris c is instead 3.3 times more distant from its star than β Pictoris b.
Astronomers hope to find out more information about this young and interesting planetary system by analyzing the data that will be acquired by the GAIA spacecraft and those of another much larger telescope still under construction in Chile.
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