‘Rogue planet’ found drifting through space

  • ‘Rogue planet’ found drifting through space

‘Rogue planet’ found drifting through space

A mysterious large object is floating around outside our solar system and researchers aren't sure exactly what it is - although it could be a rogue planet.

At just 20 light years from home, this marks the first planetary-mass object that has ever been detected using radio telescopy.

They're dubbing it "rogue" because it's mysteriously "drifting" through space without any kind of orbit around a parent star.

"This object is right at the boundary between a planet and a brown dwarf, or 'failed star, ' and is giving us some surprises that can potentially help us understand magnetic processes on both stars and planets", said Melodie Kao, who led this study while a graduate student at Caltech, and is now a Hubble Postdoctoral Fellow at Arizona State University.

Brown dwarfs, objects that are two massive be considered planets but not massive enough to sustain nuclear fusion in their cores, were first predicted in the 1960s and detected for the first time in 1995.

Those are the processes that this new object, named SIMP J01365663+0933473, might help astronomers learn more about. It also has a surface temperature of 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to minus 234 degrees Fahrenheit for Jupiter and 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit for the Sun.

The scientists found that the object's magnetic field is more than 200 times stronger than Jupiter's, which, in turn, is between 16 and 54times stronger than Earth's, according to NASA.

It was first detected using a radio telescope, the National Science Foundation's Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array.

In fact, Kao's team says the exoplanet even has auroras, which give off radio emissions that the VLA has managed to pick up.

Like this story? Share it with a friend! These charged particles travel along the planet's magnetic field lines to the poles, where they manifest as dancing lights in the sky, and producing strong radio emissions.

Initially believed to be a brown dwarf star, the peculiar celestial object, boasting a suite of unusual physical traits, turned out to be a planet after all. Brown dwarfs are neither planets nor stars.

Studies that followed it demonstrated that certain brown dwarfs display strong auroras, similar to the ones seen in the Solar System's giant planets.

The new planet is 12 times the size of Jupiter which has a radius of more than 69,000 kilometres. This meant that the object was a free-floating planet.