Challenging Planetary Formation Theories: The Discovery of Pink Gas Giant GJ 504b

Key Takeaways

The discovery of GJ 504b, a pink gas giant planet, has challenged existing theories about planetary formation. This planet, which is four times the size of Jupiter, orbits a Sun-like star known as 59 Virginis (GJ 504). Located 57 light years away from Earth, GJ 504b is one of the youngest planets directly imaged from our planet. Its existence and characteristics have sparked a need for alternative theories about the formation of gas-giant planets.

Discovery of GJ 504b

The GJ 504 system was discovered by the Strategic Exploration of Exoplanets and Disk (SEEDS) survey using the Suburu Telescope in Hawaii. The discovery of GJ 504b was a significant achievement for the SEEDS team, as it is one of the few exoplanets that have been directly imaged. The planet’s pink hue is due to its high temperature, which is a result of its young age and large size.

Characteristics of GJ 504b

GJ 504b is a gas giant planet, similar in nature to Jupiter but four times its size. It orbits its host star at a distance of 43.5 Astronomical Units (AU), which is much further than the accepted model suggests for gas-giant planets. This unusual characteristic has led scientists to question existing theories about planetary formation.

Challenging Existing Theories

The existence of GJ 504b challenges the core accretion model, which is the most widely accepted theory of planetary formation. According to this model, gas-giant planets form from the gas-rich disk of material that surrounds a young star. However, this model suggests that such planets should form close to their host star, which is not the case with GJ 504b. This has led scientists to consider alternative theories, such as the disk instability model.

Implications for Future Research

The discovery of GJ 504b has significant implications for future research in planetary science. It highlights the need for more comprehensive models of planetary formation that can account for a wider range of planetary characteristics. Furthermore, the direct imaging of GJ 504b provides valuable data for the study of exoplanets, which can help scientists better understand the diversity of planetary systems in our galaxy.


The discovery of GJ 504b has opened up new avenues for research in planetary science. Its unique characteristics challenge existing theories and highlight the need for more comprehensive models of planetary formation. As scientists continue to explore the universe and discover more exoplanets like GJ 504b, our understanding of the universe and our place in it continues to evolve.

Written by Martin Cole

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