Massive rogue planet found lurking outside our solar system


Astronomers discovered a planet just beyond our solar system with many mysterious characteristics. In addition, the object is "outcast", that is, traveling in space without being bound to any star. "It probably has its share of surprises that can help us understand the magnetic processes taking place on countless stars and planets", said astrophysicist Melodie Kao. At the time, researchers thought SIMP was a brown dwarf: an object that's too big to be a planet, but too small to be a star. The object is about 13 times heavier that Jupiter, and doesn't appear to orbit a parent star.

"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", said [Arizona State University's Melodie] Kao. The rogue planet is also 12 times bigger than Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, with a magnetic field that is 200 times stronger.

The planet is 20 light-years from Earth and is exceptionally hot, with a surface temperature of more than 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit.

In fact, scientists are still debating the difference between giant planets and brown dwarfs because of the only distinction they can categorize them based on is size.

It was once thought that no such object could exist and the first failed star was not discovered until 1995. It was detected using US National Science Foundation's Karl G Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) telescope.

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This newly found planet, which borders a brown dwarf, has a magnetic field more than 200 times stronger than Jupiter's. Finally, it would have a powerful magnetic field, whose strength would be 200 times greater than that of Jupiter. That's an incredible finding, and it suggests that there's some very interesting things going on above the planet's surface.

Auroras on Earth, known as the northern and southern lights, rely on a constant flow of energetic charged particles coming from the Sun, called solar wind.

An unaccompanied brown dwarf like SIMP JO1365663+0933473, the object detected by the VLA, does not have a companion star and thus is not flying through a solar wind.

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.

Kao added, "We think these mechanisms can work not only in brown dwarfs, but also in both gas giant and terrestrial planets".