Rogue Planet found (Planet with no Star)

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Solauren
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Rogue Planet found (Planet with no Star)

Postby Solauren » 2012-11-17 12:15pm

Lost in Space


Montreal group finds lonely planet lost in space 130 light-years from Earth
By TOM SPEARS, Postmedia News November 15, 2012


Montreal astronomers have found a lonely planet drifting through space without a solar system to call home.

It is 130 light-years from Earth, four light-years from the nearest star, in a region so dark it's invisible to ordinary telescopes. But the new "rogue" planet, called CFBDSIR 2149, gave away its position because it is warm - about 400 C - and heat shows up on infrared telescopes.

Étienne Artigau of the Uni-versité de Montréal and his group discovered it through the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope and the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope. The team leader is from the Lab-oratoire d'Astrophysique de l'Observatoire de Grenoble.

"We've suspected for some time that objects like this exist," René Doyon, a senior astronomer at the UdM, said. In fact, large objects have been detected in more distant parts of space.

But this is the first one that's planet-sized and not too far from Earth.

The new planet is about the size of Jupiter, but it's believed to weigh between four and seven times more than Jupiter. The astronomers think it has a rocky centre surrounded by dense gas, which is the source of its heat.

It's probably round, Doyon said, but they can't be sure.

Planets like this are known as gas giants and are generally not considered candidates for finding alien life.

Did the planet somehow lose its star?

"We don't know," Doyon said. One possibility is that it was once part of a solar system but was somehow jolted away from its home. But it may never have orbited a star in the first place.

It's floating slowly through space as part of a "moving group" of objects that are drifting along together, allowing astronomers to hypothesize it's the same age as the rest of the group. That would make it 50 million to 120 million years old - very young in space terms.

If there are other homeless planets drifting through space, they could be very hard to detect. Planets near Earth are visible because they reflect sunlight.

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette


Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/technolo ... z2CV8EYAih


And the search for planets just got more interesting.....

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Re: Rogue Planet found (Planet with no Star)

Postby Eternal_Freedom » 2012-11-17 08:35pm

Indeed. And to think I was saying only the other day that even if things liek this existed we wouldn't see them that far away. Then again, it is at 400 K, that's going to show up on infrared maps quite nicely.

Oh, and incidentally:

"Planets like this are known as gas giants and are generally not considered candidates for finding alien life."

No shit. It's got no solid surface and at the outer layers is hot enough to boil water. Pretty damn inhospitable.
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Re: Rogue Planet found (Planet with no Star)

Postby Dr. Trainwreck » 2012-11-17 10:03pm

As much as some people wouldn't understand it, this is again a triumph of science. We simply thought that it wouldn't be impossible for such rogue planets to exist, so they quite likely exist. And, lo and behold, evidence. Same with the discovery of the Higgs boson.

Incoming plug: on another note, "a superjovian that travels in dark space" reminded me of Peter Watts' Blindsight.
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Re: Rogue Planet found (Planet with no Star)

Postby Eternal_Freedom » 2012-11-18 01:35am

The triumph is more in the detection than in the theory. The idea of planets being ejected from solar systems is hardly novel, we just thought any such planet would be so cold and dark as to be undetectable beyond a few light years. And now we find one 130 light years distant. Most impressive.
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Re: Rogue Planet found (Planet with no Star)

Postby PeZook » 2012-11-18 03:56pm

Part of me wants for it to be so hot because it's a huge ball of hydrogen powering an absurdly humongous fusion torch, turning a gas giant into an interstellar ship.

I know it's not. I would just love it to be so.
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Re: Rogue Planet found (Planet with no Star)

Postby CaptainChewbacca » 2012-11-19 02:55am

I wonder if its got some moons the size of the Jovians, because THAT would be an interesting place for life to evolve.
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Re: Rogue Planet found (Planet with no Star)

Postby Irbis » 2012-11-19 05:32am

"Probably" round? How the check you make such planet not round?

Eternal_Freedom wrote:"Planets like this are known as gas giants and are generally not considered candidates for finding alien life."

No shit. It's got no solid surface and at the outer layers is hot enough to boil water. Pretty damn inhospitable.

Except, something so massive can easily have Earth-sized moons. We thought a lot more things are impossible, life evolving on such a world would just be one of them.

And even if it is too hot for life as humans imagine it, so what? Life doesn't need to be based on oxygen-coal combinations, say, theoretical life based on some silicate compounds could feel pretty comfortable there (as they are liquid at that temperature, pretty big requirement for life supporting chemistry).

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Re: Rogue Planet found (Planet with no Star)

Postby KhorneFlakes » 2012-11-19 06:15am

There's also metals as well. Metal and some crystalline materials are excellent building blocks for life, and I wouldn't be too surprised if we eventually discover some more advanced forms of life utilizing them for their chemistry.

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Re: Rogue Planet found (Planet with no Star)

Postby Irbis » 2012-11-19 11:48am

Yeah, I wouldn't say no for life to evolve in environments we pretty much can't imagine, or survive there if it evolved before it was solitary planet, after all, we don't exactly have a big sample to compare to say such things authoritatively.

Also, one additional nitpick:

"We don't know," Doyon said. One possibility is that it was once part of a solar system but was somehow jolted away from its home. But it may never have orbited a star in the first place.

Unless they know something big I missed, that would be STAR system, thank you :wink:

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Re: Rogue Planet found (Planet with no Star)

Postby PeZook » 2012-11-19 12:31pm

Is there any chance that it's simply a failed star that just didn't manage to gather enough mass to ignite?
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JULY 20TH 1969 - The day the entire world was looking up

It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.
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Signature dedicated to the greatest achievement of mankind.

MILDLY DERANGED PHYSICIST does not mind BREAKING the SOUND BARRIER, because it is INSURED. - Simon_Jester considering the problems of hypersonic flight for Team L.A.M.E.

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Re: Rogue Planet found (Planet with no Star)

Postby Jade_Angel » 2012-11-19 12:42pm

PeZook wrote:Is there any chance that it's simply a failed star that just didn't manage to gather enough mass to ignite?


Generally speaking, that'd be a brown dwarf. Conventionally, brown dwarfs have at least 13 Jovian masses, which is roughly enough to ignite deuterium fusion (and less than about 73 Jovian masses, enough to fuse hydrogen). An object that formed independently of any star, but isn't massive enough to fuse deuterium, either, could be termed a sub-brown dwarf or a rogue planet. There is, AFAIK, quite a bit of debate if making that distinction actually makes any sense, or if it's even possible to tell.

From a terminology standpoint, it could matter - if it's a planet then any orbiting objects are moons. If it's a sub-brown dwarf, then any natural satellites are planets. But that's mostly splitting semantic hairs.

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Re: Rogue Planet found (Planet with no Star)

Postby Eternal_Freedom » 2012-11-19 06:08pm

Yeah, ok, there are other forms of life which might be able to live in such environments, I'll concede that. Articles like this however, "alien life" can be assumed to be synonymous with "the kind of life on Earth" or "the kind of life we could detect/receive signals from."

If it's not a brown dwarf then I would be very suprised if it wasnt ejected from it's star system.
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Re: Rogue Planet found (Planet with no Star)

Postby Solauren » 2012-11-19 09:05pm

Would it still count as forming in a star system if it was part of a nebula that got 'blown off' and finished collecting on it's own before a full system formed?

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Re: Rogue Planet found (Planet with no Star)

Postby RRoan » 2012-11-20 12:52am

PeZook wrote:Is there any chance that it's simply a failed star that just didn't manage to gather enough mass to ignite?


Objects in this mass range can form in the same manner as a star, yes. Where you draw the line between star and non-star is somewhat murky, though; brown dwarfs, objects in the 13-80 jupiter mass range can undergo deuterium fusion for a short time, are not actually capable of sustained fusion of normal hydrogen. This thing is even smaller, so it's definitely not a star even though it might have formed in the same manner.

It's not a planet, incidentally. Planets must, by definition, orbit a star. Astronomers haven't gotten around to figuring out a proper name for planemos (planetary-mass objects) that aren't bound to any star.

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Re: Rogue Planet found (Planet with no Star)

Postby ryacko » 2012-11-20 01:42am

It's not a planet, incidentally. Planets must, by definition, orbit a star. Astronomers haven't gotten around to figuring out a proper name for planemos (planetary-mass objects) that aren't bound to any star.

zomgarroan. Actually the English language is not regulated by any central body, but by the speakers themselves.

It is apparently in a cluster of planet-like objects.
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Re: Rogue Planet found (Planet with no Star)

Postby Irbis » 2012-11-20 04:27am

RRoan wrote:It's not a planet, incidentally. Planets must, by definition, orbit a star. Astronomers haven't gotten around to figuring out a proper name for planemos (planetary-mass objects) that aren't bound to any star.

Um, 'Planetar'? :wink:

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Re: Rogue Planet found (Planet with no Star)

Postby Borgholio » 2012-11-20 08:57am

Well "planet" by it's original definition means "wanderer". I'd say this thing is wandering quite nicely on it's own...
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