Massive rogue planet with mystical aurora discovered adrift outside solar system – Technology News, Firstpost


A rogue planet, more than 12 times the size of the solar system’s largest planet, Jupiter, and not attached to any star, has been discovered drifting alone in space not far from Earth.

The planet is the first such object to be found using a radio telescope. But more than its unnatural path through the universe, its mass and powerful magnetic force (which is 200 times that of Jupiter) baffles scientists.

“This object is right on the border between a planet and a brown dwarf, or ‘failing star’, and has some surprises in store for us that can potentially help us understand the magnetic processes on stars and planets,” The Sun said in citing Melodie Kao, the lead author of the study at Arizona State University, as put it.

Representative image. AFP

The planet also displays scorching surface temperatures of around 825 degrees Celsius, the report adds. By comparison, the surface temperature of the Sun is 5,505 degrees Celsius.

Originally detected in 2016 using the Very Large Array Telescope (VLA) in New Mexico, the newly identified planet 20 light years from Earth was initially considered a brown dwarf, according to Independent. Brown dwarfs are often difficult objects to categorize, as they are both too big to be called planets and not huge enough to be called stars.

Similar to northern Lights or the Northern Lights seen from near the North Pole, this planet and some brown dwarfs are known to have their own auroras – despite the absence of the solar winds that traditionally cause these phenomena. The cause of the auroras has yet to be explained, but their strong magnetic fields may hold clues.

“This particular object is exciting because studying its dynamo-magnetic mechanisms can give us new insight into how the same type of mechanisms can work on extrasolar planets – planets beyond our solar system,” Kao said, quoted in the report. “We believe that these mechanisms may work not only in brown dwarfs, but also in gas and terrestrial giant planets,” she said.

Their research has been published in The Journal of Astrophysics.


Arline J. Mercier