Mysterious Rogue Planet Detected Outside Solar System

James Marshall
August 6, 2018

Astronomers have detected a possible "rogue" planetary-mass object with a surprisingly powerful magnetic field travelling through space unaccompanied by any parent star.

Scientists have made the first radio-telescope detection of a huge free-floating planet beyond our solar system, a new study said.

Brown dwarves are hard objects to categorise they are too huge to be considered planets and not big enough to be considered stars. Scientists theorise that one possibility is having a planet or moon interact with the dwarf's magnetic field.

A rogue planet over 12 times bigger than Jupiter was discovered using a radio telescope.

The difference between a gas giant planet and a brown dwarf remains hotly debated among astronomers, but one rule of thumb that they use is the mass below which deuterium fusion ceases, known as the 'deuterium-burning limit, ' around 13 Jupiter masses.

The unusual object, called SIMP J01365663+0933473, has a magnetic field which is more than 200 times stronger than the magnetic field field of Jupiter, according to the study published in The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series.

SIMP's magnetic field is over 200 times that of Jupiter's, notes the report. Whether it is a massive exoplanet or a brown dwarf is not yet clear. Since the mass of a Brown dwarf is hard to accurately calculate, at the time, the object found was thought to be an old, massive brown dwarf.

However, recent VLA observations have uncovered that SIMP J01365663+0933473 is too lightweight to be a brown dwarf. Such a strong magnetic field could improve our understanding of dynamo mechanism. The latest data reveals it's younger than first thought at a relatively youthful 200 million years old, and its mass is smaller, so it could be classified as a planet.

"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 - planets beyond our solar system", said Kao. Its temperature is also far cooler than the sun, at 825 degrees Celsius.

The new planet is 12 times the size of Jupiter which has a radius of more than 69,000 kilometres. Brown dwarfs are neither planets nor stars.

The first of such astronomical bodies was observed in 1995 and the scientists are still trying to understand more about the radio emissions and magnetic fields of five brown dwarves.

SIMP0136 was originally discovered in 2006 by another team of researchers, led by University of Montréal astronomer Dr. Étienne Artigau.

The findings appear in the Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series.

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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