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Mysterious 'rogue' planet spotted outside solar system
07 August 2018, 11:41 | Justin Tyler
Artist's impression of the enormous object known as SIMP J01365663+0933473
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.
They're calling it a "rogue" planet because it appears to be travelling through space without any kind of orbit around a parent star.
It's thought that SIMP J01365663+0933473 is only 200 million years-old and is just 20 light-years away from Earth. A light year is equal to about 6 trillion miles. Brown dwarves are hard objects to categorise they are too huge to be considered planets and not big enough to be considered stars.
The research team have discovered that the planet's magnetic field is incredibly strong - around 200 times stronger than Jupiter's - giving it a strong aurora.
Using the radio astronomy observatory VLA (Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array, National Science Foundation), scientists could pick up the magnetic activity of the planetary mass and studied it.
The unusual object sits in a grey area between a star and a planet, and was originally classed as a "brown dwarf" - a failed star.
The rogue extrasolar planetary-mass object's young age meant that it was in fact so much less massive that it could be free-floating planet - only 12.7 times more massive than Jupiter, with a radius 1.22 times that of Jupiter.
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.
The planet is believed to have scorching surface temperatures of around 825C. It is a process by which celestial bodies like brown dwarfs and exoplanets generate a magnetic field.
Brown dwarf masses are notoriously hard to measure, and at the time, SIMP0136 was thought to be an old and much more massive brown dwarf. "This. object is exciting because studying its magnetic dynamo mechanisms can give us new insights on how the same type of mechanisms can operate in planets beyond our solar system", Kao said.
Lead researcher Melodie Kao from Caltech said in a statement.
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