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According to researchers, a mysterious new planet has been found ‘floating’ freely in space. Its estimated mass is believed to be five to 10 times that of Jupiter. However, there are numerous mysteries surrounding its true identity.
According to reports from NASA, these planets were most likely ‘ejected’ from solar systems in the past.
Researchers estimate that there are many other free-floating planets in our galaxy. These enigmatic alien worlds quietly float through the ’emptiness’ of space and are considered mysterious, lonely travelers in the universe.
Using data from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer WISE, and the Two Micron All Sky Survey, or 2MASS, researchers were able to identify the free floating planetary-mass object within what is considered a young star family, referred to by astronomer as the TW Hydrae stellar association.
The enigmatic newly discovered object called WISEA J114724.10−204021.3, or just WISEA 1147, is believed to be somewhere from five to ten times the mass of our solar system’s gas giant, Jupiter.
Astronomers spotted WISEA 1147 as they were looking through images taken of the ‘entire’ sky by WISE in 2010, and 2MASS around 2000.
Since astronomers believe the lonely celestial object is a member of the TW Hydrae family of very young stars, they suggest the planet must be extremely young as well, and likely to be some 10 million years old.
However, according to planetary scientists, planets require approximately 10 million years to form, and even longer to get themselves ejected from a star system, which is why astronomers believe that the newly discovered object, WISEA 1147, is most likely a brown star.
Brown Dwarf formation is extremely similar to that of stars, but these lack the mass to fuse atoms at their cores to shine with starlight.
‘With continued monitoring, it may be possible to trace the history of WISEA 1147 to confirm whether or not it formed in isolation,’ said Adam Schneider of the University of Toledo in Ohio, lead author of a new study accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal.
Scientists estimate that in our galaxy alone there are billions of possible free-floating worlds. While some of them might be very low mass brown dwarfs, some of them might, in fact, be planets, kicked out of ancient solar systems in the distant past.
‘We are at the beginning of what will become a hot field – trying to determine the nature of the free-floating population and how many are planets versus brown dwarfs,’ said co-author Davy Kirkpatrick of NASA’s Infrared Processing and Analysis Center, or IPAC, at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
The exact number of free-floating celestial objects remains a mystery mostly because determining whether or not they are planets is a difficult task because these objects are extremely isolated.
“We can understand exoplanets better by studying young and glowing low-mass brown dwarfs,” Adam Schneider of the University of Toledo in Ohio, lead author of a new study accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal, said in a statement. “With continued monitoring it may be possible to trace the history of WISEA 1147 to confirm whether or not it formed in isolation.”