Mysterious ‘rogue’ planet discovered outside solar system
Scientists have found evidence of the first ever planetary-mass object beyond our solar system. And it’s huge. Probably a dozen times bigger than Jupiter, according to the researchers at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. They’re calling it a ‘rogue’ planet because it appears to be travelling 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. Brown dwarfs are objects too massive to be considered planets, yet not massive enough to sustain nuclear fusion of hydrogen in their cores — the process that powers stars. A radio astronomy observatory located in central New Mexico called – fittingly – the ‘Very Large Array’ (VLA) was used to pick up its magnetic activity and study it.
The research shows this object (which has been designated SIMP J01365663+0933473) has a magnetic field over 200 times more powerful than Jupiter’s. At 200 million years old and 20 light-years from Earth, the object has a surface temperature of about 825 degrees Celsius, or more than 1500 degrees Fahrenheit. By comparison, the Sun’s surface temperature is about 6,000 degrees Celsius.