Astronomers find rogue planet dozen times more massive than Jupiter

07 August, 2018, 00:24 | Author: Dwayne Harmon
  • SIMP J01365663+0933473 shown here in this artist’s concept is a massive nearby exoplanet with a powerful aurora-generating magnetic field

And we know this because astronomers have detected it using the Very Large Array radio telescope.

Originally discovered in 2016, it was only recently that it was identified as a planetary-mass object, having originally been classified as a brown dwarf.

The rogue planet is 20 light-years from Earth, and it could provide scientists "a new way of detecting exoplanets, including the elusive rogue ones not orbiting a parent star", explains researcher Gregg Hallinan.

According to the study, the huge planet possesses a powerful magnetic field over 200 times stronger than that of Jupiter and can generate dazzling auroras outshining Earth's polar lights.

SIMP's magnetic field is over 200 times that of Jupiter's, notes the report.

"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, from the Arizona State University who led this study.

Brown dwarfs, objects that are two massive be considered planets but not massive enough to sustain nuclear fusion in their cores, were first predicted in the 1960s and detected for the first time in 1995.

Originally, scientists thought SIMP J01365663+0933473 was a very big, old brown dwarf.

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Although the planet is roaming the galaxy by itself, without a companion star to orbit, its surface is quite hot judging by planetary standards.

Some experts have concluded it is therefore not a brown dwarf, but a free-floating planet.

SIMP is not small; and is about 12 times larger than Jupiter and has a strong magnetic field, say the astronomers.

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).

Kao's team used an advanced radio telescope located in New Mexico to make the discovery. The rogue body is almost large enough to be considered a gas giant planet and it offers researchers the opportunity to study these massive objects, shedding light on their magnetic realities.

"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. It is a component of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO).

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