Bizarre Rogue 'Planet' with Incredible Auroras Puzzles Scientists

Mindy Sparks
August 7, 2018

Astronomers using NSF's Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array have detected a "rogue" planetary-mass object with a surprisingly powerful magnetic field.

A rogue planet with a mass more than 12 times that of Jupiter has been spotted hurtling through space.

The new planet is 12 times the size of Jupiter which has a radius of more than 69,000 kilometres.

"This object is right at the boundary between a planet and a brown dwarf, or "failed star", and is giving us some surprises", Dr Melodie Kao and astronomer at Arizona State University told The Independent.

Brown dwarves have long stumped scientists: they're too huge to be considered planets and not big enough to be considered stars.

It's thought that SIMP J01365663+0933473 is only 200 million years-old and is just 20 light-years away from Earth. But this new data seems to show it's a much younger object and its mass was therefore a lot smaller - meaning it could theoretically be classified as a planet in its own right.

In our solar system the planets orbit the Sun but this enormous planet is going solo.

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.


Kao led this study while a graduate student at California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

Compared to the Sun's 5,500-degree-Celsius surface temperature (9,932 degrees Fahrenheit), it's relatively cool, coming in with a surface temperature of 825 degrees Celsius (around 1517 degrees Fahrenheit). The auroras seen on Earth are caused by our planet's magnetic field interacting with the solar wind.

Nevertheless, we still can't figure out how brown dwarf stars get auroras, considering they're nowhere near any type of stellar winds.

A mysterious large object is floating around outside our solar system and researchers aren't sure exactly what it is - although it could be a rogue planet.

She continued: "We think these mechanisms can work not only in brown dwarfs, but also in both gas giant and terrestrial planets".

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

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

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.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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