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Massive rogue planet found lurking outside our solar system

07 August 2018

Though it was first detected in 2016, scientists initially identified it as one of five recently discovered brown dwarfs.

The odd object in the latest study, called SIMP J01365663+0933473, has a magnetic field more than 200 times stronger than Jupiter's. Their findings were published this week, showing that this is the first time that the observatory's radio-telescope could detect the object outside our solar system.

The huge planet has a surprisingly powerful magnetic field.

Dr Melodie Kao, an astronomer at Arizona State University said as per a report by Independent, "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".

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According to a working definition laid out by the IAU Working Group on Extrasolar Planets, a brown dwarf as an object that is too small to produce hydrogen fusion, the dominant process that generates energy in stars, but is still large enough for deuterium fusion, a lower temperature process vital to newly forming stars.

At 12.7 times more massive than Jupiter, it's right on the upper limit for planets - verging into brown dwarf territory.

A further study carried out previous year revealed that SIMP was part of a young group of stars.

It's thought that SIMP J01365663+0933473 is only 200 million years-old and is just 20 light-years away from Earth. That research also showed that the planet is on its own, not orbiting a star. Its young age meant that it was in fact so much less massive that it could be a free-floating planet.

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Such a strong magnetic field could improve our understanding of dynamo mechanism. Latest measurements have established that the exoplanet has a surface temperature of 825 degrees Celsius (around 1517 degrees Fahrenheit), shows the International Business Times.

On the team with Kao and Hallinan were J. Sebastian Pineda, now at the University of Colorado Boulder, David Stevenson of Caltech, and Adam Burgasser of the University of California San Diego.

The exact difference between a large gas planet and a brown dwarf is a bone of contention for scientists, with debate raging over what defines one or the other.

Nevertheless, we still can't figure out how brown dwarf stars get auroras, considering they're nowhere near any type of stellar winds. They are intermediate objects with mass ranging between 13 and 80 Jupiter masses. "We think these mechanisms can work not only in brown dwarfs, but also in both gas giant and terrestrial planets", Kao said.

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Massive rogue planet found lurking outside our solar system