PARIS — Astronomers yesterday reported they had detected a planet that had strayed from its star system and was wandering alone in deep space.
Object CFBDSIR2149 is believed to be a cold, young world that for unknown reasons has pulled free of the gravitational pull of its mother star, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) said.
It is not the first time that a “free-floating” planet has been found, but this one is the closest that has ever been spotted, at over 100 light years from Earth.
Initial observations sketched the object as either a homeless planet or a tiny failed star called a brown dwarf, which lacks the bulk to trigger the nuclear fusion that makes stars shine.
But the probabilities narrowed when the astronomers noted it was roaming near a stream of young, restless stars called the AB Doradus Moving Group.
“This group is unique, in that it is made up of around 30 stars that all have the same age, have the same composition and that move together through space,” said astrophysicist Lison Malo at the University of Montreal.
“It’s the link between
the planet and AB Doradus that enabled us to deduce
its age and classify it as a planet.” — AFP