The impossible planet.

SEN has us baffled by a recently discovered planet that shouldn’t be there:

The new world is the farthest out from its home star of any previously found. It is 11 times more massive than Jupiter and orbits the single, Sun-like star at 650 times the distance that the Earth circles the Sun, or 20 times the orbit of Neptune.

A further twist is that the remains of a massive debris disk that provided the material to make the star and planets can still be detected too. The system lies 300 light-years away in the southern constellation of Crux.

The exoplanet, labelled HD 106906b, is only 13 million years old and still glowing from the heat of its birth, at a temperature of around 1,500 C (2,700 F). This glow was detected in the infrared part of the spectrum by adaptive optics and a thermal camera on the 6.5-metre Magellan telescope in Chile’s Atacama Desert.

Vanessa Bailey, a fifth-year graduate student at the University of Arizona’s Department of Astronomy, led the international research team. She said: “This system is especially fascinating because no model of either planet or star formation fully explains what we see.”

It’s too big, too far out and doesn’t fit the model of a (failed) binary star system, either.