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Young Jupiter-like 'Alien' Planet Discovered By Astronomers

14/08/2015 13:01 BST | Updated 14/08/2015 13:59 BST

Astronomers have discovered a young Jupiter-like planet that is rich in methane and a 100 light years away.

Known as 51 Eridani b, astronomers confirmed its existence in a paper published in the journal Science.

Researchers found the exoplanet using The Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) that is attached to the Gemini South telescope in Chile.

young jupiter

Using a spectrometer, scientists were able to detect the presence of methane -- a signature of any exoplanet -- and water vapour.

'Young Jupiter' is only 20 million years old, a toddler compared to Earth, which is 4.5 billion years of Earth.

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Travis Barman, a planetary scientist from the University of Arizona who took part in the study, told The Independent: “51 Eri b is the first young planet that probably looks like Jupiter did billions of years ago, making it ... our most important corner-piece of the planet-formation jigsaw puzzle.”

"We have been searching for evidence of methane since the first exoplanet was discovered, as it implies conditions similar to what we see in the atmospheres of our own giant planets in the Solar System," he added.

"To have found such an extraordinary example of a methane-rich atmosphere so early in our survey with GPI is really encouraging.”