Artist’s Conception of the View near the Planet LkCa 15 b
Artist’s Conception of the View near the Planet LkCa 15 b Karen L. Teramura, UH IfA

In Mauna Kea, Hawaii, astronomers have just discovered a forming planet called LkCa 15. The star is made up of gas and dust, much like the sun.

The LkCa 15 is only slightly smaller than our sun in size. Astronomers determined from images that the planet is around two million years old, making it five times younger than other known exoplanets.

The images were taken on the Keck Telescope on Wednesday. Astronomers from the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy said that the discovery happened in a survey of 150 young stars. After capturing the LkCa 15, they conducted a more in-depth study in that particular region.

Using a special telescope technique, astronomers were able to spot the planet by using mirrors to blot out the star's blinding light in the image. As a result, the technique allows us to see the surrounding dust and gas. This method is known as the aperture mask interferometry. The LkCa 15 was apparently only the team's second target, but upon sighting they knew it was out of the ordinary.

With further research, scientists believe this will allow us to better understand how exoplanets are formed.