Rogue Planet Found Named CFBDSIR2149

Posted on November 14, 2012

CFBDSIR2149 Rogue Planet

Astronomers using ESO's Very Large Telescope announced they have found a planetary-mass object 100 light-years away they believe is likely a free-floating planet, or rogue planet that is not tied to a star. The planet, named CFBDSIR2149, is part of the AB Doradus Moving Group, a stream of young stars. These rogue planets could be common in the Universe.

An artist's impression of CFBDSIR2149 is pictured above. Because it is not orbiting a star, the planet does not shine by reflected light and its faint glow is detected only by infrared light.

Philippe Delorme, lead author of the study from the Institut de planetologie et d'astrophysique de Grenoble, said in the announcement, "Looking for planets around their stars is akin to studying a firefly sitting one centimetre away from a distant, powerful car headlight. This nearby free-floating object offered the opportunity to study the firefly in detail without the dazzling lights of the car messing everything up."

Delorme also says, "Further work should confirm CFBDSIR2149 as a free-floating planet. This object could be used as a benchmark for understanding the physics of any similar exoplanets that are discovered by future special high-contrast imaging systems, including the SPHERE instrument that will be installed on the VLT."

Image: ESO/L. Cal´┐Żada/P. Delorme/Nick Risinger ( Saito/VVV Consortium

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