Nearest ever free-floating planet found

Artist's rendition of free-floating planet (Credit: ESO/L. Calçada/P. Delorme/Nick Risinger/R. Saito/VVV Consortium)

Scientists have found the closest ever Rogue planet; CFBDSIR J214947.2-040308.9 (CFBDSIR2149 for short), to our Solar System that is present about 100-light years away. It has been found with the Very Large Telescope and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope.

Rogue planets are free floating planets that are not orbiting any star. Scientists are of the opinion that either they were formed very early in the universe or they are forcibly ejected from the solar system and start moving freely in the universe. Although, scientists have found very few of them but they think that there could be more rogue planets than the stars as for example it has been estimated that our Milky Way galaxy alone could have 100,000 times more rogue planets than the stars.

The astronomers led by Philippe Delorme from the Institut de planétologie et d’astrophysique de Grenoble, CNRS/Université Joseph Fourier, France, are referring this as a rogue planet due to its free floating properties. They are studying its free-floating properties and its atmosphere that is made possible by its closeness to our Earth. This planet is also found to be slightly related to the roving group of stars called the AB Doradus Moving Group. Astronomers are also working on whether it is really a planet or a brown dwarf i.e. a “failed” star without shine due to lack of reactions.

“These objects are important, as they can either help us understand more about how planets may be ejected from planetary systems, or how very light objects can arise from the star formation process,” Philippe Delorme said in a statement (translated). “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.”

Rogue planets remind us of such people, who are found moving aimlessly in the streets with their heads down and thinking, “Do we have no ambition?” Here we would say, “Yes, everything is with some purpose.”

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