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'Rogue planet' spotted 100 light-years away


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#1 Asrokhel

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 23:26

Astronomers have spotted a "rogue planet" -- wandering the cosmos without a star to orbit -- 100 light-years away.

Posted Image
This modest dot is "rogue" planet CFBDSIR2149-0403, as seen in
the infrared

Recent finds of such planets have suggested that they may be common, but candidates have eluded close study.


The planet, dubbed CFBDSIR2149-0403, is outlined in a paper posted online to appear in Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Rogue planets are believed to form in one of two ways: in much the same way as planets bound to stars, coalescing from a disk of dust and debris but then thrown out of a host star's orbit, or in much the same way as stars but never reaching a full star's mass.

One tricky part is determining if rogue planet candidates are as massive as the "failed stars" known as brown dwarfs, further along in stellar evolution but without enough mass to spark the nuclear fusion that causes starlight.

Either way, the objects end up free of a host star's gravity. Given that most planets we know of are found through the effects they have on their host star's light, pinning down rogue planets has proven difficult.

An international team went on a vast hunt for the planets using the Canada France Hawaii Telescope on Hawaii's Mauna Kea and the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile and came up with just one candidate.


Posted Image
VLT studies allowed first guesses as to the planet's composition, as seen in this artist's impression

"This object was discovered during a scan that covered the equivalent of 1,000 times the [area] of the full moon," said study co-author Etienne Artigau of the University of Montreal.

"We observed hundreds of millions of stars and planets, but we only found one homeless planet in our neighbourhood."

But crucially, the new find appears to be moving along with a similarly itinerant group of celestial objects, called the "AB Doradus moving group" - a collection of about 30 stars which are of roughly the same composition and are believed to have formed at about the same time.

Because CFBDSIR2149-0403 appears to be moving with the group - to a certainty of 87% - astronomers believe it too formed with the stars, about 50 -120 million years ago.

It is this estimate of age that allows astronomers to use computer models of planet evolution to make further guesses as to the planet's mass and temperature.

The team believe it has a temperature of about 400C and a mass between four and seven times that of Jupiter - well short of the mass limit that would make it a likely brown dwarf.

What remains unclear is just how the planet came to be - the tiny beginnings of a star, or planet launched from its home? Study co-author Philippe Delorme of the Institute of Planetology and Astrophysics of Grenoble, said that the latter implied a great many planets like it.

"If this little object is a planet that has been ejected from its native system, it conjures up the striking image of orphaned worlds, drifting in the emptiness of space," he said.












http://www.bbc.co.uk...onment-20309762


#2 Growled

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 01:04

The universe is even stranger than we can imagine.

#3 remixedcat

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 12:34

Jimbo the space bimbo is coming back to visit!!! I'm excited! he's got something for all the cool people that like me :)

#4 Muhammad Farrukh

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 12:36

Yeah. I just spotted it using 100,000 stars and reported it to them the other day

#5 glen8

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 12:45

Nibru

#6 Farstrider

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 13:01

Ha ha, nice one glen! That said, it would have to be a crap load closer that 100 Light Years!


Light travels approximately 186,000 miles in one second, in one minute it would travel 186,000 miles x 60 miles, and in one hour it would travel 186,000 miles x 60 x 60 miles. As there are 24 hours in a day it would travel 186,000 miles x 60 x 60 x 24 miles each day, and in a year (as there are 365 days in normal years but 366 days in a leap year - averaging 365.25 days in an average year) light travels 186,000 x 60 x 60 x 24 x 365.25 miles = 5.9 million, million miles. In metres that would be 300,000,000 x 60 x 60 x 24 x 365.25 m = 9.5 thousand, million, million metres or 9.5 million, million kilometres! A light year is 9,500,000,000,000 km or 5,900,000,000,000 miles. Then multiply that by 100 light years, that is one helluva distance from us! :)

#7 Slammers

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 13:07

Ha ha, nice one glen! That said, it would have to be a crap load closer that 100 Light Years!


Light travels approximately 186,000 miles in one second, in one minute it would travel 186,000 miles x 60 miles, and in one hour it would travel 186,000 miles x 60 x 60 miles. As there are 24 hours in a day it would travel 186,000 miles x 60 x 60 x 24 miles each day, and in a year (as there are 365 days in normal years but 366 days in a leap year - averaging 365.25 days in an average year) light travels 186,000 x 60 x 60 x 24 x 365.25 miles = 5.9 million, million miles. In metres that would be 300,000,000 x 60 x 60 x 24 x 365.25 m = 9.5 thousand, million, million metres or 9.5 million, million kilometres! A light year is 9,500,000,000,000 km or 5,900,000,000,000 miles. Then multiply that by 100 light years, that is one helluva distance from us! :)


You sir, just blew my mind.