Orphan Planet Found: A Potential Orphan Planet Discovered By Astronomers

By on Nov 16, 2012 in Astronomy, Europe, Science Comments

Astronomers at the Institute of Planetology and Astrophysics of Grenoble in France have discovered a potential orphan planet just 100 light-years away from Earth, science news sites reported on Wednesday, November 14, 2012.

Orphan Planet
This artist’s impression shows the free-floating planet CFBDSIR2149,
at 100 light-years away the closest such “rogue” world to our own solar system.

Credit: ESO / L. Calcada / P. Delorme / Nick Risinger (skysurvey.org) / R. Saito / VVV Consortium

An orphan planet is a planet that does not orbit a star, so it does not shine by reflected light. According to reports, the free-floating object is called CFBDSIR2149, and is probably a gas giant planet four to seven times more massive than Jupiter. It is said to be wandering alone probably after being ejected from its own solar system.

“If this little object is a planet that has been ejected from its native system, it conjures up the striking image of orphaned worlds, drifting in the emptiness of space,” Philippe Delorme, the study leader reportedly said in a statement.

The object’s infrared signature was detected using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope and its properties were examined with the European Southern Observatory‘s Very Large Telescope in Chile, reports said.

More observations are needed to confirm if the object is indeed a planet. “We need new observations to confirm that this object belongs to the AB Doradus moving group. With a good distance measurement and a more accurate proper motion, we will be able to increase (or decrease) the probability that it is indeed a planet,” Delorme reportedly told Space.com via email.

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