Scientists Spot Massive Rogue Planet Just Outside Solar System

Katie Ramirez
August 8, 2018

In new research published in The Astrophysical Journal, scientists describe the massive object as one that's between a planet and a brown dwarf.

Brown dwarfs are objects in space that are too big to be considered as planets, but are not big enough to sustain nuclear fusion of hydrogen within their cores, which is the process that powers stars.

They also have strong auroras - similar to the stunning "Northern Lights" on Earth - like those seen in our own solar system's giant planets Jupiter and Saturn. 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.

The VLA observations have provided as the first radio detection, and the first measurement of the magnetic field of the object presumably of planetary mass outside the Solar system.

This object is 12.7 times more massive than Jupiter, and at this size, researchers can't tell for sure if it's a starless rogue planet or a brown dwarf. Its surface is heated up to about 825 degrees Celsius, which appears high by planetary standards, but is extremely less compared to the surface of our sun - heated up to a whopping 5,500 degrees Celsius.

Kao and her team are surprised that the object isn't orbiting a star, a typical behavior of planets. It's an absolutely massive alien world that is almost big enough to be classified as a brown dwarf. It is estimated that the field is over 200 times stronger than the one present on Jupiter. And according to a recently published study in The Astrophysical Journal, this odd, nomadic world has an incredibly powerful magnetic field that is some 4 million times stronger than Earth's.

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The planet is believed to have scorching surface temperatures of around 825C.

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.

The auroras on our planet are caused by its magnetic field interacting with the solar wind (the continuous flow of charged particles from the sun's upper atmosphere, known as the corona, that permeates the solar system).

The newly discovered planet was originally detected in 2016 and was considered to be a brown dwarf.

Last year, Dr. Artigau's team discovered that the object was part of a very young group of stars.

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