Feeds

ROGUE PLANET WITHOUT A SUN spotted in interstellar space

Blue world all alone just 100 lightyears away

High performance access to file storage

In images, it doesn’t look like much: just a blue dot against the black of space. What’s exciting about this little planet is that it has somehow manage to escape its star.

Even getting an image of the object, dubbed CFBDSIR2149, is a pretty good trick: CFBDSIR2149 is only visible in the infrared, and then, only just (it appears blue in the image because methane in its atmosphere absorbs much of its longer infrared wavelengths, the ESO says).

Astronomers using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile worked with the Canada-France-Hawaii (CFH) Telescope in Hawaii to capture the image of the free-floating planet, which is around 100 light years away. The CFH instruments first spotted CFBDSIR2149, and the VLT was called on to examine its properties.

The faint blue dot in the centre is the rogue exoplanet.

Source: ESO/P. Delorme

While it doesn’t orbit a star, the ESO says it appears to be moving with a group of young stars called the AB Doradus Moving Group – which, if it’s not a coincidence, would hint at the object’s age and nature.

“This is the first isolated planetary mass object ever identified in a moving group, and the association with this group makes it the most interesting free-floating planet candidate identified so far,” the ESO says.

Although the lack of a nearby star makes CFBDSIR2149 very faint indeed, it does have an upside: characteristics such as atmosphere can be studied without a host star’s light getting in the way.

“Looking for planets around their stars is akin to studying a firefly sitting one centimetre away from a distant, powerful car headlight,” says the study's lead author Philippe Delorme of France's Institut de planétologie et d’astrophysique de Grenoble, CNRS and Université Joseph Fourier.

“This nearby free-floating object offered the opportunity to study the firefly in detail without the dazzling lights of the car messing everything up,” Delorme said.

“This object could be used as a benchmark for understanding the physics of any similar exoplanets that are discovered."

The astronomers believe there’s an 87 percent chance that CFBDSIR2149 is associated with the AB Doradus Moving Group, based on a comparison of images taken by the WIRCam instrument at CFH and the ESO’s SOFI camera.

If it is moving with the group, the object would be somewhere between four and seven times the mass of Jupiter, and is more likely to be a rogue planet than a failed star, the ESO says. Its temperature is estimated to be around 430°C (806°F) and its age somewhere between 50 million and 120 million years.

More here. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
Get your MOON GEAR: Auction to feature Space Race memorabilia
Keepsakes from early NASA, Soviet programs up for bids
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.