A rogue planet wandering through the cosmos apparently without a star to orbit has been identified by an international team using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea and the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile.
It’s the first time astronomers have been able to look closely at planets of its kind without getting interference from intense nearby light.
“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, a University of Grenoble, France, astronomer who was lead writer on the project
“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.”
Possible examples of free-floating planets have been found and identified, but it hasn’t been possible to determine much about them.
In this case, however, the object — dubbed CFBDSIR2149 — seems to be part of a nearby stream of young stars known as the AB Doradus Moving Group.
“Looking for planets around their stars is akin to studying a firefly sitting one centimetre away from a distant, powerful car headlight,” said Delorme.