Giant Rogue Planet Wandering Outside Our Solar System Has Been Discovered

Cesar Mills
August 7, 2018

The new discovery can make boffins believe that they may have a novel way of detecting and finding exoplanets, including rogue ones that are hard to identify since they are not orbiting a parent star like the planets do in our solar system. This is at least how astronomers believed planets worked till they stumbled upon the first ever "rogue planet" that has been simply set adrift in the Milky Way.

According to the sources, this unusual exoplanet was first spotted two years ago, but it was cataloged as a massive brown dwarf - celestial objects that are too big to be planets but too small to constitute even the smallest star.

The planet, which is 12 times as large as Jupiter, sits around 20 light years away from Earth.

The object was originally detected in 2016 as one of five brown dwarfs the scientists studied with Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope.

SIMP's magnetic field is over 200 times that of Jupiter's, notes the report. This finding is the first radio telescope finding of an object the mass of a planet found outside the Solar System.

"They [the surprises] can potentially help us understand magnetic processes on both stars and planets".

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At 12.7 times more massive than Jupiter, it's right on the upper limit for planets - verging into brown dwarf territory. Astronomers agree that the difference can be drawn as the line below which deuterium fusion is no more possible, known as the "deuterium-burning limit", it stands at around 13 Jupiter masses.

However, when another team looked at the brown dwarf data they realised one of the objects, dubbed SIMP J01365663+0933473, was far younger than the others.

Brown dwarf masses are notoriously hard to measure, and at the time, the object was thought to be an old and much more massive brown dwarf. It is located 20 light-years from Earth and has a surface temperature of about 825 degrees Celsius.

"This particular object is exciting because studying its magnetic dynamo mechanisms can give us new insights on how the same type of mechanisms can operate in extrasolar planets", Dr. Kao said. It is a component of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO). Researchers aren't sure how brown dwarf auroras happen - "rogue" planets like these lack a nearby star's solar wind for the magnetic field to interact with.

The methods used suggest the researchers may have "a new way of detecting exoplanets, including the elusive rogue ones not orbiting a parent star", researcher Gregg Hallinan said.

Other reports by GizPress

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