The planet is approximately 11.3 billion years old and considering the fact that the universe is approximately 13.7 billion years old, the recently discovered planet seems to be the oldest planet astronomers have come across so far.
The scientists were surprised by the discovery because, they say, the early universe was not very rich in the elements needed for creating planets.
Dr. Tiago Campante, one of the researchers from the University of Birmingham, said in a press release that the planets similar to Earth in size have formed throughout the universe’s long history of 13.8 billion years. Campante added that this could provide further evidence that ancient life might have existed somewhere in the galaxy.
The recently discovered star is at the center of a new system called Kepler-444, which was named after the Kepler telescope launched in 2009.
The Kepler telescope was used to detect more than 2000 planets so far and got its name from the German astronomer Johannes Kepler.
The scientists are surprised by the discovery of this very old planet mostly because in the beginning, the universe had a very limited periodic table. The big bang only released three elements: hydrogen, helium and a very small amount of lithium.
Scientists say that the rest of the elements came later and formed inside the stars. These elements were released into the universe only after some of these stars suffered supernova explosions.
This means that as time went by, the universe got richer in other elements like carbon, oxygen, silicon, elements that were essential for the formation of planets like Earth.
The planets found around Kepler 444 cannot harbor life because they are located too near to the sun. This makes them extremely hot, dry and exposed to intense radiation.
The astronomers said the recent discovery is extremely important because:
“We’re another step closer towards finding the astronomers’ holy grail – an Earth-sized planet with a one year orbit around a star similar to our Sun.”
Image Source: independents