Science

Bizarre, rogue planet boasts impressive magnetic aurora

Bizarre, rogue planet boasts impressive magnetic aurora

According to a recent study in The Astrophysical Journal, the rogue planet has a magnetic field nearly 4 million times stronger than Earth's and a mass 12.7 times the size of Jupiter.

The massive planet is 20 light years away from Earth.

"This object is right at the boundary between a planet and a brown dwarf, or 'failed star, ' and is giving us some surprises", said Melodie Kao, who led a recent study while a graduate student at Caltech.

Brown dwarfs are objects in space that are too big to be considered as planets, but are not big enough to sustain nuclear fusion of hydrogen within their cores, which is the process that powers stars.

Artist's conception of SIMP01365, an object with 12.7 times the mass of Jupiter, but a magnetic field 200 times more powerful than Jupiter's. Astronomers found it using the National Science Foundation's Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array radio astronomy observatory in New Mexico. The first brown dwarf was discovered in 1995, although they were first theorized in the 1960s. This is at least how astronomers believed planets worked till they stumbled upon the first ever "rogue planet" that has been simply set adrift in the Milky Way.

Scientists using a radio-telescope array have spotted a big roaming cosmic body with an abnormally strong magnetic field. The auroras are similar to those on Earth that happen when our magnetic field interacts with solar wind. Being this young meant that it could, in fact, be a free-floating planet. The mysterious auroras of the planet, or rather their radio signature, is what allowed the scientists to identify the planet, but for now it is still not known how these auroras are formed. Scientists theorise that one possibility is having a planet or moon interact with the dwarf's magnetic field.




But the abnormally high magnetic field makes it even more exciting.

The newly discovered planet was originally detected in 2016 and was considered to be a brown dwarf.

The rogue planet's strong aurora is being compared to the northern lights and aurora borealis seen on Earth.

The difference between what constitutes gas giants and brown dwarfs is a matter of serious debate among astronomers, says NRAO.

The new discovery can make boffins believe that they may have a novel way of detecting and finding exoplanets, including rogue ones that are hard to identify since they are not orbiting a parent star like the planets do in our solar system.


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