Scientists are studying a rogue object with a mysterious aurora halfway between a brown dwarf and a planet.
In 2016, scientists discovered a massive floating object in our galactic neighborhood. It was more than 12 times the size of Jupiter (the biggest planet in our solar system), with a magnetic field that was 200 times more powerful. The mass lived just 20 light years outside of our solar system. Unlike Jupiter and other planets that orbit around a parent star, this space oddity was completely rogue.
At first, scientists speculated that it was a brown dwarf: a failed star dimmer than a red dwarf, but larger than gas giants. But a new
“is right at the boundary between a planet and a brown dwarf…and is giving us some surprises that can potentially help us understand magnetic processes on both stars and planets,” said Melodie Kao, a lead author of the study.
Scientists are exploring, for instance, where exactly its pretty glow comes from: auroras are usually caused by a planet’s magnetic field interacting with solar particles from solar winds. But this rogue planet doesn’t orbit around a sun, and it might be getting its light from stray particles of an orbiting moon or different planet.
Scientists found the first rogue planet in the 1990s (though the first one was theorized in the 1960s), but the newest rogue object, named SIMP J01365663+0933473, is the first one scientists have found using solely radio emission detection. Researchers hope that the same technology could be used to find more rogue planets in the future.