Subscribe

Starless Planet Floating Freely Through Space

By Belinda McCallum
Epoch Times Staff
Created: November 14, 2012 Last Updated: November 21, 2012
Related articles: Science » Space & Astronomy
Print E-mail to a friend Give feedback

Artist’s impression showing the free-floating planet CFBDSIR2149. This is the closest such object to our solar system. It does not orbit a star and hence does not shine by reflected light; the faint glow it emits can only be detected in infrared light. (ESO/L. Calçada/P. Delorme/Nick Risinger (skysurvey.org)/R. Saito/VVV Consortium)

Artist’s impression showing the free-floating planet CFBDSIR2149. This is the closest such object to our solar system. It does not orbit a star and hence does not shine by reflected light; the faint glow it emits can only be detected in infrared light. (ESO/L. Calçada/P. Delorme/Nick Risinger (skysurvey.org)/R. Saito/VVV Consortium)

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.”

The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 19 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.

Follow Belinda McCallum, EpochTimesSci & EpochTimesSpace on Twitter

Find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/EpochTimesSci & Youtube: www.youtube.com/EpochTimesSci

Please send any feedback to qa.science@epochtimes.com

Tags:


  • hostile177

    Sounds like a road hazard for future travelers.


GET THE FREE DAILY E-NEWSLETTER


Selected Topics from The Epoch Times

Sequestration