Big world around tiny star puts new spin on planet formation

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A giant world discovered around a tiny star is putting a new spin on how planets form.

Astronomers reported Thursday they’ve found a Jupiter-like planet orbiting a star that’s a mere 12% the mass of our sun. There may even be another big gas planet lurking in this system 31 light-years away.

The Spanish-led team writes in the journal Science that the newly confirmed planet did not form the usual, gradual way, where a solid core of merging particles takes shape before a gas buildup. Instead, in a surprise to scientists, the planet seems to have arisen straight from gas.

Lead author Juan Carlos Morales of the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia says the planet may be almost as big as its star. A year there is 200 days.

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