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Astronomers Discover New Planet Not Orbiting Any Star

The planet is thought to be 200 million years old and is 20 light-years from Earth

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This April 3, 2017 image made available by NASA shows the planet Jupiter. A newly discovered planet outside our solar system is 12 times the size of Jupiter. (VOA)
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Astronomers have discovered a planet outside our solar system that is 12 times the size of Jupiter, striking not only for its size but also for the fact that it is not orbiting any star.

The so-called “rogue” planet does not revolve around a star, but instead rotates around the galactic center in interstellar space.

Astronomers say there have been only a few rogue planets discovered to date. They say even though finding such celestial objects are rare, there could be large amounts of such planets in the universe that have yet to be discovered.

The so-called "rogue" planet does not revolve around a star, but instead rotates around the galactic center in interstellar space.
The so-called “rogue” planet does not revolve around a star, but instead rotates around the galactic center in interstellar space. Pixabay

The recently discovered planetary mass was originally found in 2016 but was mistaken for a brown dwarf planet. According to new research published in the Astrophysical Journal, the object is now thought to be a planet in its own right, with an usually strong magnetic field.

Also Read: NASA Spacecraft Sends Back Close-Ups of Dwarf Planet Ceres

Astronomers say the magnetic field of the new planet, named SIMP J01365663+0933473, is more than 200 times stronger than Jupiter’s. They say its strong magnetic field likely led to its being detected by a large radio-telescope in New Mexico known as the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA).

The planet is thought to be 200 million years old and is 20 light-years from Earth. (VOA)

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A Close Planet Orbiting A Star Dubbed As ‘Super-Earth’

The researchers studied the planet by combining measurements from several high-precision instruments mounted on telescopes around the world.

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An artistic impression of a sunset from Barnard's Star on a newly detected planet dubbed a "Super-Earth," in this handout illustration provided Nov. 14, 2018. VOA

A frozen and dimly lit planet, dubbed a “Super-Earth,” may be orbiting the closest single star to our solar system, astronomers said Wednesday, based on two decades of scientific observations.

The planet, estimated to be at least 3.2 times more massive than Earth, was spotted circling Barnard’s Star, a type of relatively cool and low-mass star called a red dwarf. Barnard’s Star is about 6 light-years away from our solar system, comparatively close in cosmic terms, and it’s believed that the planet obits this star every 233 days.

Planets orbiting stars beyond our solar system are called exoplanets. Nearly 4,000 have been discovered. The newly discovered one is the second closest to our solar system ever found. It is thought to be a “Super-Earth,” a category of planets more massive than Earth but smaller than the large gas planets.

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This opens up the prospect that life could be possible throughout a wider range of other universes, if they exist, the researchers said. Pixabay

“After a very careful analysis, we are 99 percent confident that the planet is there,” researcher Ignasi Ribas of the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia and the Institute of Space Sciences said in a statement. “However, we’ll continue to observe this fast-moving star to exclude possible, but improbable, natural variations of the stellar brightness which could masquerade as a planet.”

Alpha Centauri

The only closer stars than Barnard’s Star are part of the triple-star system Alpha Centauri, located a bit more than 4 light-years from our solar system.

Two years ago, astronomers announced the discovery of a roughly Earth-sized planet circling Proxima Centauri, part of the Alpha Centauri system, in an orbit that might enable liquid water to exist on its surface, raising the possibility that it could harbor alien life.

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Astronomers discover ancient star formed by Big Bang, pixabay

The newly detected planet orbiting Barnard’s Star may not be so hospitable, with surface temperatures of perhaps minus 274 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 170 degrees Celsius). Barnard’s Star provides the frigid planet only 2 percent of the energy that the sun provides Earth.

Also Read: NASA’s Ralph Will Explore Jupiter’s Trojan Asteroids In 2021

The researchers studied the planet by combining measurements from several high-precision instruments mounted on telescopes around the world.

The research was published in the journal Nature. (VOA)