Mysterious 'rogue' planet spotted outside solar system

Astronomers find rogue planet dozen times more massive than Jupiter

Astronomers find rogue planet dozen times more massive than Jupiter

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.

"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.

The giant planet lies just 20 light-years from Earth and was spotted with the Very Large Array (VLA) telescope in New Mexico, thereby becoming the first planetary-mass object to ever be detected through radio telescopy, Science Alert reports. They call it a "rogue" planet because it has no orbit or it is not tethered to a parent star. But since then, as our technology progressed, astronomers found that these stars also exhibit signs of magnetic activity, including the formation of powerful auroras - which on Earth are created by solar wind particles interacting with the planet's magnetic field.

Simultaneously, the Caltech team that originally detected its radio emission in 2016 had observed it again in a new study at even higher radio frequencies and confirmed that its magnetic field was even stronger than first measured.

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.

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. The temperature on that planet is about 825 degrees Celsius, which makes it a lot cooler than out Sun.

A few decades ago, scientists believed that brown dwarf stars don't have magnetic fields.

The VLA observations provided both the first radio detection and the first measurement of the magnetic field of a possible planetary mass object beyond our solar system.

Yet, all these unusual features still can't explain how the exoplanet got its incredibly strong magnetic field - a mystery that astronomers are still trying to crack.

"We think these mechanisms can work not only in brown dwarfs, but also in both gas giant and terrestrial planets". But the discovery could also have another exciting implication that goes way beyond understanding aurora.

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