New planet with strong aurora discovered 20 light years from Earth

New planet with strong aurora discovered 20 light years 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 that can potentially help us understand magnetic processes on both stars and planets", lead author Melodie Kao of the California Institute of Technology Caltech and a Hubble Postdoctoral Fellow at Arizona State University said in a press release.

The newly-discovered object resides 20 light-years from Earth and is some 12 times more massive than Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system.

The rogue plant also features a surface temperature of 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to negative 234 degrees Fahrenheit on Jupiter and 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit on the sun.

The planetary-mass object has been classified as rogue meaning it's free-floating and is not hitched to any parent star.

The surprising find is peculiar because it could be a planet or a brown dwarf. 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. The team's analysis showed the planet's magnetic field is around 200 times stronger than Jupiter's, and this could help explain why it also has a strong aurora.

The planet is thought to be 200 million years old and is 20 light-years from Earth.

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Brown dwarfs, objects that are two massive be considered planets but not massive enough to sustain nuclear fusion in their cores, were first predicted in the 1960s and detected for the first time in 1995. It has a surface temperature of about 825 degrees Celsius.

The huge planet has a surprisingly powerful magnetic field.

Simultaneously, Dr. Kao's team observed SIMP0136 in a new study at even higher radio frequencies and confirmed that its magnetic field was even stronger than first measured - more than 200 times stronger than Jupiter's.

Of particular note is the presence of strong auroras, which typically involve a planet's magnetic field interacting with solar wind.

The difference between what constitutes gas giants and brown dwarfs is a matter of serious debate among astronomers, says NRAO. At its size, it's right between the size of a planet and a failed star, so scientists will need to study it further to determine exactly what it is.

The rogue planet along with some brown dwarves are known to have their own auroras, similar to the aurora borealis or the northern lights seen on Earth. Hallinan also says that this process could provide a new way of detecting exoplanets - especially rogue planets, which are not orbiting a star.

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