Researchers have come across a strange alien planet that they believe should not exist. According to their study, the existence of the planet goes against current theories and models about planetary formation.

The planet that baffled the research team has been identified as GJ 3512b. According to the researchers, this planet is half as massive as Jupiter, which is known as the largest body in the Solar System apart from the Sun.

Interestingly, GJ 3512b orbits a small star or red dwarf known as GJ 3512, which is located about 30 light-years from Earth. Based on existing planetary formation models, GJ 3512b should not exist because it is too big to be supported by its host star.

According to researcher Christoph Mordasini of the University of Bern, planets that orbit small stars should only be about as massive as Earth.

“Around such stars there should only be planets the size of the Earth or somewhat more massive Super-Earths,” Mordasini said in a press release.

“GJ 3512b, however, is a giant planet with a mass about half as big as the one of Jupiter, and thus at least one order of magnitude more massive than the planets predicted by theoretical models for such small stars,” he added.

Mordasini explained that according to current planetary formation models, large numbers of small planets tend to form around or near small stars. One possible explanation regarding the evolution of GJ 3512b is the planet gradually grew into a bigger one through core accretion. This involves the collision and coagulation of solid materials until they form into large bodies.

The researchers also noted that it is possible that the planet encountered a gravitational collapse during its formation. As the gas disk that’s responsible for the planet’s formation collapsed under its own gravity, it attracted other cosmic matter inward. This eventually caused the growing planet to become larger.

If this is the case, however, Mordasini noted that the planet should have moved closer to its host star.

Although the researchers haven’t found a solid explanation regarding GJ 3512b’s size, they believe further observations would lead to a better understanding of how planets are formed.

The findings of the researchers were presented in a new study published in the journal Science.

Exoplanet
Scientists have discovered that a new medium-sized planet is vanishing at a faster rate than others. Pictured: A hand out image made available by the European Southern Observatory on August 24 2016, shows an artist's impression of the planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Solar System. Getty Images/M. Kornmesser