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Ancient Planet

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Long before our Sun and Earth ever existed, a Jupiter-sized planet formed around a sun-like star. Now, almost 13 billion years later, Hubble Space Telescope has precisely measured the mass of this farthest and oldest known planet.


The planet orbits a peculiar pair of burned-out stars in the crowded core of a globular star cluster. The burned-out starts are a helium white dwarf and a rapidly spinning neutron star. In such a place, fragile planetary systems tend to be ripped apart due to gravitational interactions with neighboring stars. But, this planet has survived. It takes a century to complete each orbit. The planet is 2.5 times the mass of Jupiter. Its very existence provides tantalizing evidence the first planets were formed rapidly, within a billion years of the Big Bang, leading astronomers to conclude planets may be very abundant in the universe.

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