Cosmic record – Rogue planet finds home in largest solar system ever: giant alien planet takes 900,000 years to orbit its star


A huge alien world orbits 600 billion miles (1,000 billion kilometers) from its host star, making its solar system the largest known, according to a new study.

Astronomers have found the mother star of a giant gas exoplanet named 2MASS J2126, which was previously thought to be a “rogue” world flying freely in space. The planet and its star are separated by about 7,000 astronomical units (AU), which means the alien world orbit about every 900,000 years, the researchers say. (One AU is the average distance from Earth to the sun – approximately 93 million miles, or 150 million km).

For comparison, Neptune is about 30 AU from the sun, Pluto on average is about 40 AU from the Earth’s star, and scientists believe the new “Planet Nine” never moves more than 600 to 1,200. UA of the sun. [The Strangest Alien Planets (Gallery)]

“The planet is not as lonely as we initially thought, but it is certainly in a very long distance relationship,” said lead author of the study, Niall Deacon, of the University of Hertfordshire in England, in a press release.

The previous record for the farthest planet and star was 2,500 AU, the researchers said.

False-color infrared image of the star TYC 9486-927-1 and the planet 2MASS J2126;  the arrows show their movement projected over 1000 years.  The scale indicates a distance of 4000 <a class=astronomical units (AU), where 1 AU is the average distance between Earth and the sun (approximately 93 million miles, or 150 million kilometers).” class=”pull- expandable lazy-image-van optional-image” onerror=”if(this.src && this.src.indexOf(‘missing-image.svg’) !== -1){return true;};this.parentNode.replaceChild(window.missingImage(),this)” sizes=”(min-width: 1000px) 970px, calc(100vw – 40px)” data-normal=”https://vanilla.futurecdn.net/space/media/img/missing-image.svg” srcset=”https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/oXZyFmA5aTXZV7w6V78jU-320-80.jpg 320w, https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/oXZyFmA5aTXZV7w6V78jU-650-80.jpg 650w, https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/oXZyFmA5aTXZV7w6V78jU-970-80.jpg 970w” data-original-mos=”https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/oXZyFmA5aTXZV7w6V78jU.jpg” data-pin-media=”https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/oXZyFmA5aTXZV7w6V78jU.jpg”/>

False-color infrared image of the star TYC 9486-927-1 and the planet 2MASS J2126; the arrows show their movement projected over 1000 years. The scale indicates a distance of 4000 astronomical units (AU), where 1 AU is the average distance between Earth and the sun (approximately 93 million miles, or 150 million kilometers). (Image credit: 2MASS / S. Murphy / ANU)

Deacon and his colleagues analyzed databases of rogue planets, young stars, and brown dwarfs – strange objects larger than planets, but too small to trigger the internal fusion reactions that power stars – to see if they could link one of them.

The team discovered that 2MASS J2126, which was discovered eight years ago, and a red dwarf star called TYC 9486-927-1 move together in space about 104 light-years from Earth, which strongly implies that they are part of the same system. .

The researchers were able to deduce an approximate age for TYC 9486-927-1 and 2MASS J2126, based on the signature of lithium in the star’s spectrum: between 10 million and 45 million years old. (Lithium is destroyed relatively early in a star’s life, so the more lithium a star has, the younger it is.)

2MASS J2126 has therefore performed a maximum of 50 orbits around the star so far.

Knowing the age of the planet has allowed researchers to calculate a mass for the planet: about 12 to 15 times that of Jupiter. Previous studies had estimated the temperature of 2MASS J2126 to be around 2,730 degrees Fahrenheit (1,500 degrees Celsius). The planet appears to be broadly similar in characteristics to the alien world Beta Pictoris b – but 2MASS J2126 orbits more than 700 times farther from its star than Beta Pictoris b, team members said.

The chances that life can exist on 2MASS J2126 is very low, the researchers said. But a hypothetical observer on the gas giant would see its sun as just a bright star in the sky, and might not even realize that the planet and the star are connected, they added. (It takes TYC 9486-927-1 light per month to travel to the planet; sunlight takes about 8 minutes to travel to Earth.)

The alien planetary system likely did not form from a large spinning disk of dust and gas like Earth’s solar system did, study team members said. But exactly how it took shape remains a mystery.

“How such a vast planetary system forms and survives remains an open question,” co-author Simon Murphy, Australian National University of Canberra, said in the same statement.

The new study has just been published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook Where Google+. Originally published on Espace.com.



Arline J. Mercier

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.