An object has been spotted near our solar system that is very likely a planet without a host star.
Named CFBDSIR2149, it is about 100 light-years away, and appears to be part of the AB Doradus Moving Group, a collection of stars believed to be of the same age.
Similar objects discovered in the past could not be clearly identified without knowing their age; they may actually be brown dwarfs, which are substellar objects that lack sufficient energy to shine.
If CFBDSIR2149 is associated with this group of young stars, more of its properties can be estimated, including its temperature, and the composition of its atmosphere.
“Looking for planets around their stars is akin to studying a firefly sitting one centimeter away from a distant, powerful car headlight,” said study lead author Philippe Delorme at France’s Institut de planétologie et d’astrophysique de Grenoble in a press release.
“This nearby free-floating object offered the opportunity to study the firefly in detail without the dazzling lights of the car messing everything up.”
Such worlds could be common, and probably arise as a small star or brown dwarf, or when a planet is kicked out of its solar system.
“These objects are important, as they can either help us understand more about how planets may be ejected from planetary systems, or how very light objects can arise from the star formation process,” says Delorme.
“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.”
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