Astronomers discover freakish rogue planet glowing with auroras

08 August, 2018, 14:39 | Author: Tara Reeves
  • Artist's conception of SIMP J01365663+0933473 an object with a magnetic field 200 times more powerful than Jupiter’s and lives 20 light years from Earth

The Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array radio telescope has detected emissions, presumably from an aurora, generated by an unusual body 12 times more massive than Jupiter and generating a magnetic field 200 times more intense that is flying through space on its own 20 light years from Earth. Although this sounds hot, it's quite cool compared with the sun's surface temperature of about 9,932 degrees Fahrenheit.

A unusual 200 million-year-old object with the mass of a planet has been discovered 20 light-years from Earth, outside our solar system.

SIMP is 20 light-years from Earth and has a surface temperature of more than 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit.

More baffling still is its mass and powerful magnetic field that's over 200 times stronger than Jupiter's.

Brown dwarfs, explains the NRAO, are celestial objects that are too big to actually be considered planets, yet not big enough to sustain the nuclear fusion that keeps stars alive in their cores. It was initially observed in 2016, however, it was thought to be a brown dwarf planet. Finding a solitary planet - called a "rogue" planet - is more hard, but researchers just managed to spot one using a radio telescope, and it's a real weirdo.

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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. Being this young meant that it could, in fact, be a free-floating planet. The first ever sighting of a Brown Dwarf happened as late as 1995.

It is these radio signatures emitted by the auroras of such rogue objects that allow researchers to detect them.

Kao heard those results when she was looking at the newest data from the radio astronomy observatory, which helped the researchers determine the strong magnetic field. "We think these mechanisms can work not only in brown dwarfs, but also in both gas giant and terrestrial planets", Kao said. However, brown dwarfs are typically solitary and don't have a nearby star - therefore they don't have any solar wind to interact with.

Such a strong magnetic field "presents huge challenges to our understanding of the dynamo mechanism that produces the magnetic fields in brown dwarfs and exoplanets and helps drive the auroras we see", adds Gregg Hallinan, of Caltech, who also worked on the study.

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