Astronomers from the Institute of Astronomy within the University of Hawaii have discovered an exoplanet located at a distance of just 35 light-years. It is called COCONUTS-2b and is the closest exoplanet to Earth ever found and described. A study about the new exoplanet was published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The University of Hawaii says they have recorded a low-temperature gas giant planet with a mass six times that of Jupiter. It revolves around a red dwarf.
Two factors helped in discovering COCONUTS-2b: the exoplanet revolves around its sun at a distance of six thousand times the distance from the Earth to our Sun; the exoplanet is located at a distance of 35 light-years from Earth.
Scientists named the new planetary system COCONUTS-2, and the new planet is called COCONUTS-2b. They were named after the Cool Companions on Ultrawide Orbits research project.
As the University of Hawaii notes, COCONUTS-2b is the second cold exoplanet found to be imaged. Its temperature is only 320 degrees Fahrenheit (160 °C).
Scientists were able to see the exoplanet thanks to the light emitted from the residual heat trapped since the time the planet formed.
Since the planet's energy is over a million times weaker than the Sun's, you can only detect it using infrared radiation.
As it turned out, COCONUTS-2b was first discovered back in 2011 thanks to the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer satellite. However, back then, scientists thought it was a free-floating object that did not revolve around any star.
Only then graduate students from the University of Hawaii and other scientists discovered that COCONUTS-2b is actually gravitationally bound to a low-mass star that weighs about three times less than the Sun and is about ten times younger.