A massive "rogue" planet with an unexplained "glow" has been seen drifting alone through space, scientists claim.
It's thought that SIMP J01365663+0933473 is only 200 million years-old and is just 20 light-years away from Earth. A light year is equal to about 6 trillion miles.
"This object is right at the boundary between a planet and a brown dwarf, or 'failed star, ' and is giving us some surprises that can potentially help us understand magnetic processes on both stars and planets", said Melodie Kao, an astronomer at Arizona State University. Brown dwarfs, hard to categorise, are too huge to be classified as planets and not big enough to be classified as stars.
More baffling still is its mass and powerful magnetic field that's over 200 times stronger than Jupiter's. Astronomers found it using the National Science Foundation's Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array radio astronomy observatory in New Mexico. Scientists aren't exactly sure how the auroras form in brown dwarfs, but they do have some theories. The "rogue" object is not attached to any star, and is the first of its kind to be discovered using a radio telescope from Earth. This finding is the first radio telescope finding of an object the mass of a planet found outside the Solar System. Now, as stated in the new research, it is thought that the cosmic object is a planet, with an enormously strong magnetic field.
It is these radio signatures emitted by the auroras of such rogue objects that allow researchers to detect them.
But the abnormally high magnetic field makes it even more exciting. But it's possible an orbiting planet or moon could trigger similar interactions like the ones seen between Jupiter and its moon Io.
SIMP was first detected in 2016 as one of five brown dwarfs, but it was later believed to be something else after astronomers collected more data to identify its age.
Brown dwarf masses are notoriously hard to measure, and at the time, the object was thought to be an old and much more massive brown dwarf. "We think these mechanisms can work not only in brown dwarfs, but also in both gas giant and terrestrial planets".
The so-called "rogue" planet does not revolve around a star, but instead rotates around the galactic center in interstellar space.
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