Scientists Spot Massive Rogue Planet Just Outside Solar System

Rodiano Bonacci
Agosto 8, 2018

A new planet, which is 12 times bigger than Jupiter, has been discovered outside our solar system by astronomers.

The planet is only around 20 light years from Earth, but it's not really doing much besides relaxing in the vastness of space. A light year is equal to about 6 trillion miles.

"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, explains the NRAO, are celestial objects that are too big to actually be considered planets, yet not big enough to sustain the nuclear fusion that keeps stars alive in their cores.

Artist's conception of SIMP01365, an object with 12.7 times the mass of Jupiter, but a magnetic field 200 times more powerful than Jupiter's. The first brown dwarf was discovered in 1995, although they were first theorized in the 1960s.

Astronomers have discovered a rogue planet that's nearly too big to be considered a planet - and to top it off, the rogue object is a magnetic powerhouse. It's so big that it can barely be classified a planet - it's nearly a failed star.

Despite its weight, the newly discovered planet has a radius only 1.2 times that of Jupiter, the study said.

On Earth, auroras are generated by interactions between its magnetic field and solar winds. The mysterious auroras of the planet, or rather their radio signature, is what allowed the scientists to identify the planet, but for now it is still not known how these auroras are formed. But it's possible an orbiting planet or moon could trigger similar interactions like the ones seen between Jupiter and its moon Io.

The object was originally detected in 2016 as one of five brown dwarfs the scientists studied with the VLA to gain new knowledge about magnetic fields and the mechanisms by which some of the coolest such objects can produce strong radio emission.

But the abnormally high magnetic field makes it even more exciting.

Kao added, "We think these mechanisms can work not only in brown dwarfs, but also in both gas giant and terrestrial planets". The planet is rotating around the galactic center in the interstellar space.

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