This mammoth planet Rogue has some serious magnetism
SIMP J01365663 + 0933473, shown here in this artist’s concept, is a massive and nearby exoplanet with a strong magnetic field generating auroras.(Credit: Caltech / Chuck Carter; NRAO / AUI / NSF) A strange starless rogue planet roams the Milky Way just 20 light years from the Sun. And according to a study recently published in The Astrophysical Journal, this strange nomadic world has an incredibly strong magnetic field that is about 4 million times stronger than that of Earth. Plus, it generates spectacular auroras that would put our own Northern Lights to shame. The new observations, made with the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA), are not only the first radio observations of a planetary mass object beyond our solar system, but also mark the first time that researchers measure the magnetic field domain of such an organism.
The particular, unattached object, succinctly named SIMP J01365663 + 0933473 (we’ll call it SIMP for simplicity), was first discovered in 2016. At the time, researchers thought SIMP was a dwarf brown: an object too big to be a planet, but too small to be a star. However, last year another study showed that SIMP is just small enough, at 12.7 times the mass and 1.2 times the radius of Jupiter, to be considered a planet, albeit gigantic. “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,” said Melodie Kao of Arizona State University, which led the new study on SIMP, in a press release. For a planet, SIMP is also pretty hot: the world has a surface temperature of over 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit (825 Celsius). For comparison, the hottest planet in our solar system is Venus, which has an average temperature of around 875 F (470 C), while the Sun, a relatively small and cold star, has a surface temperature of d about 10,000 F (5500 C). . However, it’s important to note that Venus gets most of its heat from the Sun. And since the solitary SIMP does not orbit a star, its heat must have come from its initial formation some 200 million years ago. Thus, over time, the planetary goliath will continue to radiate its heat.
According to the most recent study, SIMP is not only gigantic by planetary standards, but it also has a magnetic field that is millions of times stronger than that of our home planet. And while this magnetic field helps SIMP produce stunning light shows, auroras are not generated the same way they are here on Earth. Jupiter has by far the strongest magnetic field in the solar system. At nearly 20,000 times the force of Earth’s, Jupiter’s field produces incredibly bright auroras. These occur when electrically charged particles are accelerated along the planet’s magnetic field lines before breaking up into atoms in Jupiter’s upper atmosphere at about 3,000 miles (5,000 kilometers) per second. On Earth, a similar process produces what we call the Northern Lights and Southern Lights; however, the charged particles that lead to terrestrial auroras originate mainly from the Sun in the form of solar wind. On Jupiter, however, the charged particles mainly originate from its moon Io instead of the solar wind. Since SIMP does not have a star bombarding it with wind like Earth does, researchers believe that SIMP’s auroras may be produced more like Jupiter’s, which means SIMP may have a moon.
To recap: SIMP appears to be a massive, magnetic starless exoplanet that may have a moon that generates bright auroras while roaming the Milky Way. Phew. It’s impressive. But how will this fascinating discovery help astronomers learn more about the universe? “This particular object is exciting because studying its dynamo-magnetic mechanisms can give us new information on how the same type of mechanisms can work in extrasolar planets,” Kao said. “We believe that these mechanisms may work not only in brown dwarfs, but also in gas and terrestrial giant planets.” In other words, SIMP will help astronomers better understand how magnetic fields are generated in exoplanets. But wait, that’s not all! “Detecting SIMP J01365663 + 0933473 with the VLA via its auroral radio broadcast also means that we might have a new way of detecting exoplanets, including the elusive thugs that don’t orbit a parent star,” the co said. -author Gregg Hallinan of Caltech. So this is it. SIMP is an extremely interesting object in and of itself, but more importantly, this new research opens the door to future information on exoplanetary magnetic fields and auroras, as well as to aid in the hunt for exoplanets that seemingly enjoy their privacy. This article originally appeared on Astronomy.com.