Astronomers Find Planets Formed At The Dawn Of The Universe
Artist’s impression of the oldest star and its two planets

European astronomers have discovered an ancient planetary system, which is likely to be a survivor from an early universe, some 13 billion years ago. The planetary system is at a distance of about 375 light-years away from earth.

A team of astronomers including researchers from the Max-Planck-Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany, have discovered the planetary system which consists of star HIP 11952 and two planets, HIP 11952b and HIP 11952c that have orbital periods of 290 and seven days respectively.

The star HIP 11952 is a metal-poor star which has very low metal content other than hydrogen and helium. Till now, scientists have believed that planets are very rarely formed around such metal-poor stars. Only metal-rich stars like the sun can harbour the formation of planets.

This new discovery of a planetary system with a metal-poor and an old star has made scientists rethink their models about the formation of the planetary system.

"In 2010 we found the first example of such a metal-poor system, HIP 13044. Back then, we thought it might be a unique case. Now, it seems as if there might be more planets around metal-poor stars than expected," explained Veronica Roccatagliata from the University Observatory Munich, who was the principal investigator of the planet survey around metal-poor stars.

Johny Setiawan of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, who led the study of HIP 11952 said: "This was an archaeological find in our own backyard."

"These planets probably formed when our galaxy itself was still a baby," he added.

The study has been published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.