Exploring GJ 504 b: The Pink Gas Giant Challenging Our Understanding of Planetary Formation

Key Takeaways

GJ 504 b is a fascinating exoplanet that challenges our understanding of planetary formation. This pink gas giant, four times the size of Jupiter, orbits a Sun-like star 57 light years away from Earth. Its discovery has sparked a wealth of research and debate within the scientific community.

Discovery of GJ 504 b

The discovery of GJ 504 b was announced by NASA in 2013. The planet was found using direct imaging techniques, which involve taking pictures of a star and then blocking out the star’s light to reveal any orbiting planets. This method is particularly effective for finding large, young planets that are far from their host stars, as these planets are still glowing from the heat of their formation.

Characteristics of GJ 504 b

GJ 504 b is a gas giant, similar in nature to Jupiter, but four times its size. It has a striking pink color, which is thought to be due to its high temperature. The planet is still relatively young, at only 160 million years old, and is still cooling and contracting. Its host star, 59 Virginis (GJ 504), is very similar to our own Sun.

Location and Orbit

GJ 504 b orbits its star at a distance of 43.5 astronomical units (AU), which is roughly the same distance as Pluto is from our Sun. This is much further out than the gas giants in our own solar system, which has puzzled scientists. According to the core-accretion model of planetary formation, gas giants should form close to their host stars, where there is more material available to form a planet. The fact that GJ 504 b is so far from its star suggests that this model may not be complete.

Implications for Planetary Formation Theories

The discovery of GJ 504 b has significant implications for our understanding of how planets form. The core-accretion model, which is the most widely accepted theory of planetary formation, cannot explain how a gas giant could form so far from its star. This has led scientists to consider alternative theories, such as the disk instability model, which suggests that gas giants could form quickly from instabilities in the disk of material around a young star.

Future Research

GJ 504 b is a prime target for future research. By studying this planet and others like it, scientists hope to gain a better understanding of how gas giants form and evolve. This could also provide insights into the formation of our own solar system, and potentially help us to identify other planets that could support life.


The discovery of GJ 504 b has challenged our understanding of planetary formation and opened up new avenues of research. This pink gas giant, orbiting a Sun-like star far from our own, is a reminder of the diversity and complexity of the universe. As we continue to explore the cosmos, who knows what other surprises await us?

Written by Martin Cole

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