A planet detected outside our Solar System could be less than 2,000 years old, astronomers say.
Aball of dust and gas, which is in the process of turning into a Jupiter-like giant, was detected around the star HL Tau, by a UK team. Research leader Dr Jane Greaves said the planet's growth may have been kickstarted when another young star passed the system 1,600 years ago.
Details were presented at the UK National Astronomy Meeting in Belfast. The scientists studied a disc of gas and rocky particles around HL Tau, which is 520 light-years away in the constellation of Taurus and thought to be less than 100,000 years old.
The disc is unusually massive and bright, making it an excellent place to search for signs of planets in the process of formation.
The researchers say their picture is one of a proto-planet still embedded in its birth material.
Dr Greaves, from the University of St Andrews, Scotland, said the discovery of a forming planet around such a young star was a major surprise.
"The next youngest planet confirmed is 10 million years old."