A strange lonely planet found without a star

Oct 09, 2013
Artist's conception of PSO J318.5-22. Credit: MPIA/V. Ch. Quetz

(Phys.org) —An international team of astronomers has discovered an exotic young planet that is not orbiting a star. This free-floating planet, dubbed PSO J318.5-22, is just 80 light-years away from Earth and has a mass only six times that of Jupiter. The planet formed a mere 12 million years ago—a newborn in planet lifetimes.

It was identified from its faint and unique heat signature by the Pan-STARRS 1 (PS1) wide-field survey telescope on Haleakala, Maui. Follow-up observations using other telescopes in Hawaii show that it has properties similar to those of gas-giant planets found orbiting around young stars. And yet PSO J318.5-22 is all by itself, without a host star.

"We have never before seen an object free-floating in space that that looks like this. It has all the characteristics of young planets found around other stars, but it is drifting out there all alone," explained team leader Dr. Michael Liu of the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. "I had often wondered if such solitary objects exist, and now we know they do."

During the past decade, extrasolar planets have been discovered at an incredible pace, with about a thousand found by indirect methods such as wobbling or dimming of their host stars induced by the planet. However, only a handful of planets have been directly imaged, all of which are around (less than 200 million years old). PSO J318.5-22 is one of the lowest-mass free-floating objects known, perhaps the very lowest. But its most unique aspect is its similar mass, color, and energy output to directly imaged planets.

"Planets found by direct imaging are incredibly hard to study, since they are right next to their much brighter host stars. PSO J318.5-22 is not orbiting a star so it will be much easier for us to study. It is going to provide a wonderful view into the inner workings of gas-giant like Jupiter shortly after their birth," said Dr. Niall Deacon of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany and a co-author of the study.

Multicolor image from the Pan-STARRS1 telescope of the free-floating planet PSO J318.5-22, in the constellation of Capricornus. The planet is extremely cold and faint, about 100 billion times fainter in optical light than the planet Venus. Most of its energy is emitted at infrared wavelengths. The image is 125 arcseconds on a side. Credit: N. Metcalfe & Pan-STARRS 1 Science Consortium

PSO J318.5-22 was discovered during a search for the failed stars known as brown dwarfs. Due to their relatively cool temperatures, brown dwarfs are very faint and have very red colors. To circumvent these difficulties, Liu and his colleagues have been mining the data from the PS1 . PS1 is scanning the sky every night with a camera sensitive enough to detect the faint heat signatures of brown dwarfs. PSO J318.5-22 stood out as an oddball, redder than even the reddest known .

"We often describe looking for rare celestial objects as akin to searching for a needle in a haystack. So we decided to search the biggest haystack that exists in astronomy, the dataset from PS1," said Dr. Eugene Magnier of the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a co-author of the study. Dr. Magnier leads the data processing team for PS1, which produces the equivalent of 60,000 iPhone photos every night. The total dataset to date is about 4,000 Terabytes, bigger than the sum of the digital version of all the movies ever made, all books ever published, and all the music albums ever released.

The team followed up the PS1 discovery with multiple telescopes on the summit of Mauna Kea on the island of Hawaii. Infrared spectra taken with the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility and the Gemini North Telescope showed that PSO J318.5-22 was not a brown dwarf, based on signatures in its infrared light that are best explained by it being young and low-mass.

By regularly monitoring the position of PSO J318.5-22 over two years with the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, the team directly measured its distance from Earth. Based on this distance, about 80 light-years, and its motion through space, the team concluded that PSO J318.5-22 belongs to a collection of young called the Beta Pictoris moving group that formed about 12 million years ago. In fact, the eponymous star of the group, Beta Pictoris, has a young gas-giant planet in orbit around it. PSO J318.5-22 is even lower in mass than the Beta Pictoris planet and probably formed in a different fashion.

Explore further: Brown dwarf companion stars

More information: The discovery paper of PSO J318.5-22 is being published by Astrophysical Journal Letters and is available at arxiv.org/abs/1310.0457

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Eikka
2.3 / 5 (12) Oct 09, 2013
The total dataset to date is about 4,000 Terabytes, bigger than the sum of the digital version of all the movies ever made, all books ever published, and all the music albums ever released.


I find that hard to believe, since Google's databases are also on the order of 1 petabyte, and that's just an index of stuff that's out there on the internet - not the actual stuff that is.

In fact, Youtube is estimated to house at least 9 petabytes, or 9,000 terabytes of data.
Benni
1.7 / 5 (16) Oct 09, 2013
How can it be labeled a "planet" when it isn't orbiting anything? Things like "planetary gears",etc carry a "planet" label precisely because they orbit something.
Water_Prophet
1.3 / 5 (15) Oct 09, 2013
Dark matter.
verkle
1.3 / 5 (16) Oct 09, 2013
It seems like it's more of a star than a planet, emiting its own light and energy.

Q-Star
5 / 5 (11) Oct 09, 2013
It seems like it's more of a star than a planet, emiting its own light and energy.


Those aren't the requirements that make a star. Brown dwarfs are not stars, and they are much larger than this is.

A star becomes a star only after the core reaches a temperature that allows fusion to take place, that requires + / - 10^7 kelvins.

The "light" that this thing is putting out is in the low infrared. Not much different than that produced by any super Jupiter, only hotter. The reason it is so "hot" is because it is young,,, it produces heat in by the Kelvin-Helmholtz process, gravitational collapsing, it is not massive enough to ever be able to collapse enough to ignite fusion at it's core.
Q-Star
5 / 5 (10) Oct 09, 2013
How can it be labeled a "planet" when it isn't orbiting anything? Things like "planetary gears",etc carry a "planet" label precisely because they orbit something.


The word planet, comes from the ancient Greeks, "planetae" which means "wanderers".
Jeddy_Mctedder
1.6 / 5 (24) Oct 09, 2013
i've been an avid follower of astronomy for years, no professional.

guess what, astonomy as a field still has NO understanding of OBSERVATIONAL star formation. there is no repeated OBSERVATIONS of embryonic stars forming , let alone FAILING to form.

yes, you read that. the only thing astronomers have observed is impenetreable clouds of gas in which they believe stars must be forming due to the energy emanating from the cloud. it is very much like black holes. we've never seen one, only what's near it.

there is no set of observations of larger than jupiter astronomical bodies entering the early star fusion state. and there is NO set of observations where we can confirm any 'point' at which dwarf stars 'form'.
there is every reason to believe that nature operates along a spectrum with a few band gaps.
thus , there is a lot of intuitive reasons to believe there are MANY gas giants spanning a large range, which we have yet to observe.

Q-Star
3.5 / 5 (11) Oct 09, 2013
i've been an avid follower of astronomy for years, no professional.

guess what, astonomy as a field still has NO understanding of OBSERVATIONAL star formation. there is no repeated OBSERVATIONS of embryonic stars forming , let alone FAILING to form.

yes, you read that. the only thing astronomers have observed is impenetreable clouds of gas in which they believe stars must be forming due to the energy emanating from the cloud. it is very much like black holes. we've never seen one, only what's near it.

there is no set of observations of larger than jupiter astronomical bodies entering the early star fusion state. and there is NO set of observations where we can confirm any 'point' at which dwarf stars 'form'.
there is every reason to believe that nature operates along a spectrum with a few band gaps.
thus , there is a lot of intuitive reasons to believe there are MANY gas giants spanning a large range, which we have yet to observe.


What ya say is true in the AWT only.
LarryD
2.1 / 5 (15) Oct 09, 2013
Q-Star...you're wrong...it's the work of that child entity from star trek...Trelane. Didn't he make a planet just like this one?
There could be many reasons why a planet could be lone but I just hope it doesn't 'wander' too close to our SS, its capture might produce a few problems?
Tuxford
1.7 / 5 (23) Oct 09, 2013
The reason it is so "hot" is because it is young,,,


Ah....and it sounds so reasonable.

No, it must be 'young' because it is hot. The logic is illogic. Such is the bewilderment of modern astronomers, pretending to understand. Perhaps, unknown processes make it warm. It might very well be quite old...much more likely.
Q-Star
3.8 / 5 (13) Oct 09, 2013
There could be many reasons why a planet could be lone but I just hope it doesn't 'wander' too close to our SS, its capture might produce a few problems?


There are several reasons a planet could be alone. But from the other objects local to it, the best bet would be that it was one of a group of objects that formed from a single star forming cloud. Some would be massive enough to become stars, others brown dwarfs, and some only super planet sized. The young age and it's proximity to similar aged protostars point this way.

Orphaned planets can also form in systems like our solar system and be ejected due to interactions with other planets.

Generally speaking, it's not thought that an object this size can form on it's own because there is not enough mass to drive the collapse. But this is uncertain science, there are people that argue that it could be possible form in isolation from a small cloud. But that's the minority view.

Dexter
2.2 / 5 (10) Oct 10, 2013
4000 Terabytes are 'bigger than the sum of the digital version of all the movies ever made, all books ever published, and all the music albums ever released.'?

Really? Who wrote this non-sense? Such writings put all the facts in the article to a non-beliving light. Is there any editor around?
antialias_physorg
3.9 / 5 (7) Oct 10, 2013
Generally speaking, it's not thought that an object this size can form on it's own because there is not enough mass to drive the collapse.

Well, if I were to speculate I'd go something like this:
- Gas/dust is not fully homogeneous in between thoes palces where solar systems can form.
- Passage of stars/solar systems further adds to this inhomogeneity. So I could imagine that you can get locally dense enough clumps/strands of matter to start coalescing
- During formation of solar systems you also have ejecta from which are somewhat larger (failed planets, or just Oort cloud objects that get bumped off into deep space). These could serve as a 'seed' for a planet-size object to form from local dust pockets.
- Strong jets from various objects also contain lots of matter - and at a certain distance might well colaesce into smaller bodies (they do even form suns in some cases, no?)
vlaaing peerd
4.6 / 5 (9) Oct 10, 2013
How can it be labeled a "planet" when it isn't orbiting anything? Things like "planetary gears",etc carry a "planet" label precisely because they orbit something.


Call it a floating hot ball of gas for all I care. We had this thing already about Pluto. does it really matter what name you give it? It's just a way of referring to things.

might I add that in a sense it's orbiting Sagittarius A?
Eikka
1.6 / 5 (12) Oct 10, 2013
The word planet, comes from the ancient Greeks, "planetae" which means "wanderers".


But the IAU definition of a planet depends on it being in orbit around a sun.

Furthermore, Pluto isn't a planet because it hasn't "cleared its neighborhood".
antialias_physorg
4.1 / 5 (9) Oct 10, 2013
Does a planet that is ejected from its system lose the 'planet' label?

But I agree with vp: It really doesn't matter what it's called as long as the name is indicative of its nature (in this case a mass large enough to mould itself into an (almost) perfect sphere while small enough not to start fusion at its core.)
Benni
1.4 / 5 (14) Oct 10, 2013
Does a planet that is ejected from its system lose the 'planet' label?


Of course it does, it goes to the definition of "planet", it doesn't matter what it's made of, rock or gas.

It really doesn't matter what it's called


Well then, so much for applying definitions to anything.

... as long as the name is indicative of its nature


...which in this case it is not orbiting anything therefore must not be a planet, the classical astronomical feature which characterizes anything labeled "planetary".

PNoel
1.3 / 5 (15) Oct 10, 2013
Lets be plain here: The nebular formation hypothesis doesn't work for this planet. Worse yet it pretty much slaughters the whole concept. Comets formed with high temperature materials don't support the theory either. This pretty much collapses especially due to its "young age" any theory of star formation or the Nuclear Theory of stars. Guess what folks?! You only have one theory in town that works. It is the electronic theory of the universe and well it explains this very well.
EnricM
1.5 / 5 (16) Oct 10, 2013

I find that hard to believe, since Google's databases are also on the order of 1 petabyte, and that's just an index of stuff that's out there on the internet - not the actual stuff that is.

In fact, Youtube is estimated to house at least 9 petabytes, or 9,000 terabytes of data.


Well, stupid size comparison aside, 3.9 pb seems indeed a bit exaggerated. I bet there was a comma dance and it's something in the range of 4 - 40 teras.

Or maybe they have clogged their database with pr0n, LOL XD
triplehelix
1.5 / 5 (16) Oct 10, 2013
2 questions that are baffling me.

1.How did they date it just by observation?
2.How did it form without any directional spin? e.g. planets form when dust/gas cycles round a newborn star and these particles aggregate and form large rock bodies or gas bodies or both.

How did some gas floating in the *ahem* arsehole of nowhere form a planet?

Humpty
1.6 / 5 (19) Oct 10, 2013
That is where Jesus has his holiday home.

He can lay around all day on the sun lounge, stay warm, and not get sun burnt, because there is no sun.

He has such magical powers he can run the universe from there, even when he is asleep.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.5 / 5 (8) Oct 10, 2013
Does a planet that is ejected from its system lose the 'planet' label?

But I agree with vp: It really doesn't matter what it's called
Wel if we really want to know we could look it up.

"A substellar object, sometimes called a substar, is an astronomical object whose mass is smaller than the smallest mass, approximately 0.08 solar masses, at which a star can sustain hydrogen fusion. This definition includes brown dwarfs, former stars similar to EF Eridani B, and can also include objects of planetary mass, regardless of their formation mechanism and whether or not they are associated with a primary star."

-I don't know why the scientist above isn't using this term. It does matter what it's called however, as we can use the term to find out what scientists are saying about it rather than idly speculating.
rockwolf1000
3.7 / 5 (7) Oct 10, 2013
How can it be labeled a "planet" when it isn't orbiting anything? Things like "planetary gears",etc carry a "planet" label precisely because they orbit something.


Call it a floating hot ball of gas for all I care. We had this thing already about Pluto. does it really matter what name you give it? It's just a way of referring to things.

might I add that in a sense it's orbiting Sagittarius A?

If we're going to get picky about terminology, why are we using the term "floating"?
Captain Stumpy
1.3 / 5 (13) Oct 10, 2013
hey Q-Star... can you clear this up? you know cosmology, right?

if the definition of a substellar object (or substar) is an accurate descriptor, why would the author choose to use the term "planet"?

i find that rather confusing, unless you consider that the author is attempting to use sensationalism.

What do you think, Q?
Neinsense99
1.7 / 5 (15) Oct 10, 2013
How long until this "strange lonely" recluse starts posting pseudoscience and political rants here?
Q-Star
4.6 / 5 (9) Oct 10, 2013
hey Q-Star... can you clear this up? you know cosmology, right?

if the definition of a substellar object (or substar) is an accurate descriptor, why would the author choose to use the term "planet"?


The I.A.U. would call this object a Planetary-Mass Object, or PMO. The author stuck the word planet in there without thinking,,, If ya read the article VERY carefully, ya will see that the people who did this work, didn't use the word "planet" to describe this object, only reference to other planets. Even planets in other systems are called exoplanets by the I.A.U. Planet is reserved exclusively to mean "Sun orbiting planetary objects."

I wouldn't worry about the fine print, as long as ya aren't writing a scholarly paper or textbook. And as long as the context is correct. Brown dwarfs are not stars, they are substellar objects. Neither are they Planetary-Mass Objects. The nuances are very minute in this size object. There is jargon, and common speak, both have their place.

Q-Star
4 / 5 (8) Oct 10, 2013
@ Stumpy:

Maybe it would help ya understand better than I could explain in the limited space here if ya have time to Google the following terms. (Wiki hits are good because I happen to know that several members of the I.A.U. work together to keep those pages updated and correct in nomenclature.)

Each of these things are distinct classes of astronomical objects:

Protoplanetary disks (Proplyds)
Planets.
Dwarf Planets.
Exoplanets.
Planetesimals.
Substellar Objects / Brown Dwarfs.
Protostellar objects/Protostars.
Stars & Stellar systems.

That's a few of the more important ones, but it is by no means a complete list.

Why did I not include asteroids & comets? Good question, they overlap and should be considered together as group. There are many ongoing arguments and debates, (by the people who are actually experts on the objects) about what goes into each group. Sort of the way ya look at the planets, they are each more AND less different from each other.
LarryD
1.5 / 5 (15) Oct 10, 2013
This is from the IAU '...Definition of a Planet

We invite you to consult the IAU Resolutions 5 and 6 (PDF file, 92KB) adopted on August 2006, at our XXVIth General Assembly in Prague, as well as the press release published on the occasion. The following theme article may also be of interest: http://www.iau.or.../pluto/.
Q-Star
4.2 / 5 (5) Oct 10, 2013
This is from the IAU '...Definition of a Planet

We invite you to consult the IAU Resolutions 5 and 6 (PDF file, 92KB) adopted on August 2006, at our XXVIth General Assembly in Prague, as well as the press release published on the occasion. The following theme article may also be of interest: http://www.iau.or.../pluto/.


Now ya've done it. How long before Laurel shows up now? Please don't beg her in to disrupt the proceedings please.
LarryD
1.3 / 5 (14) Oct 10, 2013
Q-Star, just trying to be helpful. As a member of the RAS, here's another quote part of a news item about Free Floating Planets, that I found but it's dated 2001:
'...There is also controversy over how to classify these "inbetween" objects. Some astronomers say that as these may have been formed like a star, they should not be called planets. The authors suggest that a new term - planetars - may be a good compromise.' and here's another from 2006
cont....
LarryD
1.3 / 5 (15) Oct 10, 2013
cont...
Astronomers are wrestling with a definition of 'planet'. Professor Iwan Williams FRAS is one of a seven person committee set up by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to define just what constitutes a planet.

They have just concluded two years of work defining the difference between "planets" and the smaller "solar system bodies" such as comets and asteroids. If the definition is approved on 24 August 2006 at the IAU General Assembly in Prague, our Solar System will include 12 planets, with more to come: eight classical planets that dominate the system, three planets in a new and growing category of "plutons" - Pluto-like objects - and Ceres. Pluto remains a planet and is the prototype for the new category of "plutons."

Ha, one wonders if we might call FFP's depending on their size...'Jupitons','Saturnnits','Earthrons'...guess you're right, I've opened the 'floodgates'...sorry!
Q-Star
3.7 / 5 (6) Oct 10, 2013
They have just concluded two years of work defining the difference between "planets" and the smaller "solar system bodies" such as comets and asteroids. If the definition is approved on 24 August 2006 at the IAU General Assembly in Prague, our Solar System will include 12 planets, with more to come: eight classical planets that dominate the system, three planets in a new and growing category of "plutons" - Pluto-like objects - and Ceres. Pluto remains a planet and is the prototype for the new category of "plutons."


Ya are tad late with the news Larry, ya RAS guys need to try to keep up. Seven years ago, it was decided that there are Eight (8) planets. Pluto is not a planet, it is a dwarf planet. "Plutons" (actually I think ya mean "plutoids") was rejected in favor of calling this class of objects "dwarf planets". This is old and much over-talked about history.

Are ya really a member of the Royal Astronomical Society? Fellow? or Friend?. Tell the truth now, okay?
Neinsense99
1 / 5 (7) Oct 10, 2013
This is from the IAU '...Definition of a Planet

We invite you to consult the IAU Resolutions 5 and 6 (PDF file, 92KB) adopted on August 2006, at our XXVIth General Assembly in Prague, as well as the press release published on the occasion. The following theme article may also be of interest: http://www.iau.or.../pluto/.


Now ya've done it. How long before Laurel shows up now? Please don't beg her in to disrupt the proceedings please.

If you are lucky, someone heavy will be resting on that Laurel.
LarryD
1.5 / 5 (15) Oct 11, 2013
Yes,Q-Star, I am a Fellow. Not a question of being out of date because later Journals & notes (now A&G since joining with the Geological Society) I have, do mention the SS planets and Pluto. But I was thinking about the lone planet problem in particular, not the SS. I cannot find specific mention of a exoplanet without a 'parent' Sun and what terminology should be used. For example, here's a partial quote from a event taking place today in London:
'EChO – Exoplanter Characterization Observatory – is a space mission dedicated to studying the atmospheres of extrasolar planets around nearby stars. This candidate M3 ESA mission provides the first opportunity to investigate the chemical composition and climatology of a representative sample of exoplanets, going beyond planet discovery, for an extended range of masses and temperatures from hot to habitable. This meeting will present the EChO mission concept to the wider UK community summarising the scientific and technical cases, and...cont
LarryD
1.3 / 5 (14) Oct 11, 2013
cont
the critical phases that will lead to mission selection in the winter of 2014.'
However, it may be that with lone planet mass bodies newly discovered that perhaps these might be discussed too.
Q-Star, as I have mentioned in comments elsewhere, I do not now live in England but reside in Thailand. So I can't just nip around the corner, as it were, and look up the latest info. Nor can I get on the phone because of the time difference. The best I can do is to ask the Librarian via email if there is up to minute info on this particular issue. However, by the time I get a reply posting here might have been closed. But I guess that's okay because I am bound to 'meet' you on another article and I can briefly mention this one
I might be a layman but I am not a liar (implied by your comment 'Tell the truth now, okay?') so get off your high horse.
And Pluton is a quote not my own words but if you read my post correctly you would have realised that!
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (4) Oct 11, 2013
I wouldn't worry about the fine print, as long as ya aren't writing a scholarly paper or textbook.


Good call. With the nomenclature debates I'm always reminded about what Feynman once said in an interview (actually his father told him this as a kid): If you memorize all the names of all the birds in all of the world then you still don't know anything about birds. (Not an excaty quote, but that was the gist of it..and a reason why Feynman didn't even use exact nomenclature in most of his public/popular lectures when the idea was clear.)

It is important to use the right names in scientific papers so that others know exactly what you mean, as you're often working on the 'edges' of a subject (i.e. either extending a subject into a new realm or working on properties of a subject that are still ill defined).
vlaaing peerd
not rated yet Oct 11, 2013
How can it be labeled a "planet" when it isn't orbiting anything? Things like "planetary gears",etc carry a "planet" label precisely because they orbit something.


Call it a floating hot ball of gas for all I care. We had this thing already about Pluto. does it really matter what name you give it? It's just a way of referring to things.

might I add that in a sense it's orbiting Sagittarius A?

If we're going to get picky about terminology, why are we using the term "floating"?


I intended to avoid pickiness in the first place, but if you will ... let's call it "thing in space". Better?

The article makes it sound like not the discovery, but the phenomena itself is rare. As far as I know planets should get ejected all the time when stars die.
Benni
1 / 5 (11) Oct 11, 2013
How can it be labeled a "planet" when it isn't orbiting anything? Things like "planetary gears",etc carry a "planet" label precisely because they orbit something.


I intended to avoid pickiness in the first place, but if you will ... let's call it "thing in space". Better?


That's better than calling it something it obviously is not.......a "planet", as it is so extensively & mistakenly referred to in the article. But as is so frequently characterized by the tone of certain frequent posters, the political correctness of their politics is way more important than the scientific accuracy of many of their haphazard & careless statements.
Q-Star
5 / 5 (2) Oct 11, 2013
Q-Star, as I have mentioned in comments elsewhere, I do not now live in England but reside in Thailand. So I can't just nip around the corner, as it were, and look up the latest info. Nor can I get on the phone because of the time difference. The best I can do is to ask the Librarian via email if there is up to minute info on this particular issue. However, by the time I get a reply posting here might have been closed.


Google and the myriad sites devoted astronomy are much better than emailing the Librarian for keeping up with things. I would hardly call something decided seven years ago, and argued ad nausium over the last seven years "up to the minute",,, but then up here on the high horse, we can see further and farther.
LarryD
1 / 5 (7) Oct 11, 2013
Q-Star you are obviously so high that you read my posts improperly. Maybe you spend most of your time looking at 'Google and the myriad sites devoted astronomy...' but I don't. Please don't dictate to me whom I wish to contact.
Q-Star
5 / 5 (2) Oct 11, 2013
Q-Star you are obviously so high that you read my posts improperly. Maybe you spend most of your time looking at 'Google and the myriad sites devoted astronomy...' but I don't. Please don't dictate to me whom I wish to contact.


I certainly won't dictate anything to ya. If ya want to stay current by emailing the Librarian, please do. Seven year old items might be recent enough to satisfy ya, but if it doesn't overwhelm the people ya discussing things with don't get so touchy. When ya say things like Pluto is still a planet, in 2013, while also gratuitously including that ya are a member of the RAS,,,,,,, well it raises eyebrows, and encourages a chuckle. (Particularly went thinking of the various questions that ya ask from time to time.)
GSwift7
2.3 / 5 (4) Oct 11, 2013
4000 Terabytes


I prefer hard copies. Walmart photo center, FTW!

As to the origin and age:

This thing is definitely out there, so it had to form somehow. It's made of gas, so it must have formed from gas. How can anyone rationally argue with that?

It is floating by itself, so no exterior source of energy. We can see it emitting IR from 80 LY away, so we know it is cooling. In fact, we can measure the total amount of energy it is radiating with fairly high precision. From that, we know that it cannot be more than X years old, or it would be cold by now.

This makes me wonder how many older objects of this type might be whizzing around the neighborhood. Such an object, if cooled to near absolute zero, would be nearly undetectable, except by it's shadow as it passes between us and background objects. That might make an interesting research topic. You could look for occlusions in the PS1 data almost as easily as looking for faint IR targets.
Benni
1 / 5 (11) Oct 11, 2013
@Qstar

Does Pluto orbit anything?
Q-Star
5 / 5 (4) Oct 11, 2013
@Qstar

Does Pluto orbit anything?


Yes.
beleg
2.6 / 5 (5) Oct 11, 2013
Is astronomy advanced enough to distinguish between captured orphans (thingys) and those originating from their parent (star/sun)?
Captain Stumpy
1.6 / 5 (14) Oct 11, 2013
Q-Star -
Thanks for the post. I will be looking up these items... and I will read the Wiki hits.

I appreciate it.

That's a few of the more important ones, but it is by no means a complete list.


with the Wiki involved, I am sure there will be references to other objects in the articles, you think? I will keep a sharp eye out for that while I read.

THanks again

Mr_Science
1.5 / 5 (15) Oct 11, 2013
Regarding the article - It is possible such objects are much more common than is currently perceived. They are hard to detect and as GSwift7 pointed out with sufficient time might be near impossible. Water_Prophet alluded to the idea such objects could be what has become known as Dark Matter. There is no doubt such objects may account for some portion of Dark. However, there is not currently any evidence of the overabundance of such objects to count for all of Dark Matter or even a significant percentage.

Regarding discussion of terminology –Terminology is rather important when discussing complex information with other people with an in depth understanding of such information. Laymen terminology doesn't need to be so precise. phys.org is a laymen site, therefore precise terminology isn't needed. Rather you agree or disagree, you must admit, the term planet did get the point across.
Mr_Science
1.5 / 5 (15) Oct 11, 2013
@ Benni – Please check this out for more information on Pluto. http://solarsyste...viewLong
GSwift7
3.7 / 5 (6) Oct 11, 2013
Is astronomy advanced enough to distinguish between captured orphans (thingys) and those originating from their parent (star/sun)?


Good question.

Just to clarify, you're talking about objects that ARE orbiting a star, not free-floating rogue objects like the one in the story above, right?

I would say that there should be several clues. Due to our limited ability to observe fine details of exoplanets, we may not be able to see them well enough to know. But, if we could see them well enough, we might be able to make a good guess.

One obvious clue that a planet isn't native to its current star might be that its orbit isn't in the star's ecliptic, or that it has a retrograde orbit in relation to the star's rotation. That might not be 'proof' but it would be a strong indicator.

Another way might be estimating the age of the planet versus the age of the star?

Perhaps bulk composition would be a third way?

Your thoughts?
GSwift7
3.4 / 5 (5) Oct 11, 2013
Regarding discussion of terminology –Terminology is rather important when discussing complex information


The wiki on rogue planets says that they should not technically be called planets at all. It says that if they formed alone, then they should be 'sub-brown dwarves', and if they are ejected planets, then they are now 'planetary mass objects'. Their prior status as a planet around their parent star is irrelevant (according to the wiki).
RealityCheck
1.3 / 5 (14) Oct 11, 2013
Hi Water_Prophet.
Dark matter.
Hmmm. Big Bang hypothesis involves many generations/epochs of stellar formation-explosion up to the present epoch, so the number of 'orphaned planets' accumulating over epochs in the intergalactic spaces must literally be astronomical?

Significant numbers of such 'lesser and Jupiter-plus' massed bodies 'detritus' spread out in gravitationally loosely aggregated vast regions may not be visible yet may cause 'gravtitational lensing' over the long 'focal lengths' space distances involved between them 'there' and us observers 'here'. Add to that the number of Black Hole bodies of exploded stars of requisite remnant mass (yet not actively feeding for lack of sufficient gas in their vicinity), and you have significant aggregations of known forms of mass capable of causing 'dark matter' effects/observations?

@Fleetfoot, et al: Is there any realistic estimate for such (ie, ordinary past epoch 'detritus' contribution/proportion) for "dark matter" effects?:)
LarryD
1.3 / 5 (12) Oct 11, 2013
Q-Star, again you have read my posts correctly. Nowhere do I say that Pluto is still regarded as a planet. What I did write was:

'...Not a question of being out of date because later Journals & notes (now A&G since joining with the Geological Society) I have, do mention the SS planets and Pluto...'

I clearly separarted Pluto because I acknowledged your comment about Pluto being a dwarf planet as being present terminiology.
Mr_Science, considering the the discussion between Q-Star and myself, your comment;
'...Laymen terminology doesn't need to be so precise...'
would seem to be unwise.
I think it is right that lay people should know correct terminology within the limit of detail given to them.

Q-Star
5 / 5 (3) Oct 11, 2013
Q-Star, again you have read my posts correctly. Nowhere do I say that Pluto is still regarded as a planet. What I did write was:

'...Not a question of being out of date because later Journals & notes (now A&G since joining with the Geological Society) I have, do mention the SS planets and Pluto...'

I clearly separarted Pluto because I acknowledged your comment about Pluto being a dwarf planet as being present terminiology.


Then please tell me how I misunderstood this:

Pluto remains a planet and is the prototype for the new category of "plutons.


Pluto does NOT remain a planet. It IS the type specimen for a new category of "dwarf planets". This is seven year old news.
LarryD
1.4 / 5 (11) Oct 11, 2013
Q-Star, in addition to my previous comment this is what I found on MS Encarta:

In 2005 Pluto's status as the ninth and outermost planet of the solar system was put into question with the discovery of 2003 UB313 in an orbit 8.59 billion km (5.33 billion mi) further out on average than that of Pluto. The fact that 2003 UB313 has a diameter greater than that of Pluto has led some astronomers to suggest that Pluto might not be a planet at all but an object within the Kuiper Belt
Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2007. © 1993-2006 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
I don't know if the 2009 version has updated info (maybe you do). The point I'm making is that I was aware that Pluto might be in the process of being down graded, as it were.
With regard to the article here it would seem that back in 2002 the term 'interstellar planet' was in use and even now still in use, along with others, '...A rogue planet — also known as an interstellar planet, nomad planet, free-floating planet or orphan...
LarryD
1.4 / 5 (10) Oct 11, 2013
Q-Star, what are you doing? For the second time I have to remind you that 'Pluto remains....Plutons' was NOT MY WORDS,but A QUOTE, I repeat, NOT MY WORDS but A QUOTE from the IAU. I clearly state that on my post...think you need new glasses.
However, if we can move on, way back in 2002 the term 'interstellar planet' was in use for a planetoid not orbiting a star and it still is along with several others; Another quote;
'A rogue planet — also known as an interstellar planet, nomad planet, free-floating planet or orphan planet...'
So it seems that the 'jury is still out' on that topic. Would you agree with that?
Q-Star
4.2 / 5 (5) Oct 11, 2013
I don't know if the 2009 version has updated info (maybe you do).


I checked it was updated in the 2007.

The point I'm making is that I was aware that Pluto might be in the process of being down graded, as it were.


Ya were unaware that it WAS "down graded" over seven years ago.

The entire world was arguing ad nausium, ad infinitum over it. Hence my "Laurel" comment. EVERYONE in the astrophysical community knows Laurel the Pluto nutter. And I do mean everyone. She's more famous than the actual planet Pluto. Google "Pluto Laurel" if ya don't believe me.
Q-Star
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 11, 2013
With regard to the article here it would seem that back in 2002 the term 'interstellar planet' was in use and even now still in use, along with others, '...A rogue planet — also known as an interstellar planet, nomad planet, free-floating planet or orphan...


What does the 2002, ELEVEN years ago, have to do with this article?

The term 'interstellar planet' was never in use by professional astronomers.It is not today, the correct term for such an object is "Planetary-Mass Object". All those other terms are used by the lay public & in a very loose fashion because it leaves to much room for misunderstanding.

A FRAS would NEVER use any of those terms that ya suggest. Hence my question to ya about it.
LarryD
1 / 5 (12) Oct 11, 2013
Again you can't read, Q-Star I wrote that I was '...aware...'! What is it with you? Before a definition is made about most things a more general term is given while under debate. It's like the term 'Dark Energy' and until we find out whether it exists or not this general term will apply. Maybe some day it will have a more specific name.
Sir Patrick Moore CBE,FRAS did use those terms and how about the other side of the Atlantic, Leif Robinson. Yes they were more on the amateur side but even amateurs like using correct terminology. If you are going to question THEIR integrity then you are a sad person indeed!
Q-Star
3 / 5 (4) Oct 11, 2013
Sir Patrick Moore CBE,FRAS did use those terms and how about the other side of the Atlantic, Leif Robinson.


Neither of them wrote any books since the first discovery of one of these objects. Ya did know that the first confirmed PMO was in 2005? With only one other "possible" discovered on the Kech in 2000. There are only five. (5)

When Moore & Robinson were writing about these things, had the first one even been discovered?

Yes they were more on the amateur side but even amateurs like using correct terminology. If you are going to question THEIR integrity then you are a sad person indeed!


Ya don't seem to know when to stop digging. When ya suggested that ya "were aware that Pluto might be demoted" and inserting that ya were a FRAS, ya should have responded with a simple, "I've been out of the loop, wow Pluto was demoted?".

Why would ya even put in that silly "member of RAS" into the conversation if ya only wanted to ask a question? What was the purpose? Gravitas?
LarryD
1.4 / 5 (11) Oct 12, 2013
You are wrong again Q-Star. Patrick Moore was the general editor and there was a foreword by Leif Robinson in a book published in 2002..Look it up. On page 203 you will find an entry quote:
Interstellar planet Planet that wanders in interstellar space, not gravitationally bound to any star...'
It goes on to say that it was in debate whether such objects should be called planets. The terms 'grey dwarf' and 'planetar' are also mentioned.
In that same book Pluto is still classified as the ninth planet but mentions that its status as a planet was in debate but that the IAU had decided against changing Pluto's status. It was only later years (after 2006) in discussion I found out that Pluto's status had been reclassified.
I admit that I don't know most recent terminology for recent 'exo' discoveries, I woudn't be asking the RAS if I did. cont.
LarryD
1.3 / 5 (12) Oct 12, 2013
And why shouldn't I mention a possible resource of info, RAS? It' is no more 'silly' [your word] than your suggestion about looking on the internet. If this site, and the present discussion, is anything to go by, your suggestion is just as doubtful as looking elsewhere. The fact that you have to be told twice about 'quotes' surely means that you are capable of getting the 'wrong end of the stick'.
So why don't you just admit that your above post is wrong and move on.
LarryD
1.4 / 5 (10) Oct 12, 2013
Just been looking at other 'forums' regarding this same article and it seems they have simmilar 'definition' problems.
One quote from a avionics manager is;

Ya know, the original Greek translation of the word "planet" is wanderer......so this does fit that definition at least.

Say Q-star, even writes like you ha ha.
Another quote is;

Rogue planets have been detected through other means (e.g. gravitational lensing) before. The Milky Way may be teeming with hundreds of billions of these wanderers. On the other hand, some of these, on closer observation, might reveal complex gravitational dynamics with their neighboring bodies, thus putting to question their apparent non-attachment status. Either way, there's so much to look forward to in astronomy.

Both quotes from within the past 24 hours...so the term 'Rogue planets' is still in use eh? Must say I'm a bit doubtful about '...teeming with hundreds of billions of these wanderers...' because if that were so...Dark Matter?
Q-Star
4.2 / 5 (5) Oct 12, 2013
Must say I'm a bit doubtful about '...teeming with hundreds of billions of these wanderers...' because if that were so...Dark Matter?


I'm skeptical about that number also. But not because of the dark matter question. I question a mechanism to produce so many of them without some accompanying phenomena.

But if there are hundreds of billions of them in the Galaxy, it wouldn't add much to the hunt for dark matter. Hundreds of billions would not be even one percent of the required mass. It would require many thousands of billions to account for the observed mechanics, and that is just within the Milky Way.

For it to account for the mechanics of galaxy clusters it would require trillions of billions. We can be pretty certain that this not where we should look for dark matter. That many of something would not have eluded detection by the super scopes that have been on line for the last decade or so.
Benni
1.3 / 5 (13) Oct 12, 2013
Three different definitions of the word "planet" are in use here:

1. Greek definition-wanderer
2. Kinematic application- sun gear & planetary gears
3. Astronomical - classification by size

None of these three bear any manner of usefulness to one another.

The Greek definition is irrelevant because present day etymology utilizes only the kinematic application of "planet" in describing its function & motion. The 2000 year old Greek definition of "wanderer" is no longer useful to our understanding of "planet" in the present age.
beleg
1.7 / 5 (7) Oct 12, 2013
"Just to clarify, you're talking about objects that ARE orbiting a star, not free-floating rogue objects like the one in the story above, right?-G7"

Yes.
Are we sure 'our' system never contributed to something the article reports here too?
Is 'capture' and 'release' as common as the ever increasing number of planets discovered?

Those are my thoughts.

LarryD
1.5 / 5 (8) Oct 12, 2013
Yes Q-Star, agreed! But what I'm always a bit unsure of is that when someone uses a phrase like '...teeming with hundreds of billions...' are they using it to emphasise a 'great many' or to imply more than that?
But what I think is a 'better' question to ask would be: if there are large numbers of these wandering PMO's wouldn't that imply that there is/was some 'common' mechanics at work here? If it were just the odd one or two it may be of interest to the 'specialist' but a 'large number' might attract a wider range of Astronomers. Any thoughts, someone?
Q-Star
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 12, 2013
'...teeming with hundreds of billions...' are they using it to emphasise a 'great many' or to imply more than that?


Unless they already have a mechanism for producing "hundreds of billions"??? Could so many be flung out of young stellar systems? It's possible, but only possible. Could they form independently? It's possible, but doubtful.

But what I think is a 'better' question to ask would be: if there are large numbers of these wandering PMO's wouldn't that imply that there is/was some 'common' mechanics at work here?


If there were large numbers of them observed the task would be to develop a model to explain their existence in such numbers.

If it were just the odd one or two it may be of interest to the 'specialist' but a 'large number' might attract a wider range of Astronomers. Any thoughts, someone?


A "large number" of undiscovered things, that have no compelling observations to imply they are in fact there won't attract a wider range of astronomers.
dtxx
1.3 / 5 (12) Oct 12, 2013
Wait, did you quote microsoft encarta? Go away troll.
LarryD
1.4 / 5 (10) Oct 13, 2013
Q-Star, yes I have been doing some digging this time. I mentioned previously during a discussion someone had alerted to me to the journal entry about the IAU definitons. I 'dug' the journal out dated oct. 2007. There is a main article(Prof. Iwan williams and Prof. Jcelyn B. Burnell) where the IAU resolution is also given: and a minor artlicle where UB313 had the tempoaray name of 'Xena' (now Eris). The only reason I mention this is that whatever you may think, I am genuine in my pursuits...oh boy means I have I have to read all the others up to the present to see what else I've forgotten.
Incidentally, your comment and my reply about 'interstellar planet' above, Wikipedia even PREDATES the Moore and Robinson entry:
'...Professor of planetary science at Caltech.
In 1998, David J. Stevenson theorized that some planet-sized objects drift in the vast expanses of cold interstellar space and could possibly sustain a thick atmosphere which would not freeze out...' cont.
LarryD
1.4 / 5 (10) Oct 13, 2013
cont.
'...Thus, it is proposed that interstellar planetary bodies...'
Yes obviously before discovery but it does show that scientisits had ideas about naming such objects at that time. Perhaps 'prediction' would be too strong word but Prof. Stevenson's theory must have been based on some known facts at the time.
Could it be I wonder, that the Moore and Robinson entry was based on Prof. Stevenson's theory?
GSwift7
5 / 5 (2) Oct 14, 2013
beleg:

Are we sure 'our' system never contributed to something the article reports here too? Is 'capture' and 'release' as common as the ever increasing number of planets discovered?


Actually, it looks very likely that our system has ejected something early in its history (maybe more than once). The current positions of the planets, the timing of major meteor bombardments, the formation of our moon, the location of the asteroid belt, etc. all suggest that our system has not always been as it is now.

If you are familiar with conservation of momentum, then you know that planets do not just change orbits on their own. If something is moved inwards, then an equal 'something' must be moved outwards. That could be a lot of little things, or one big thing.

Anyway, that does seem to be a possibility, based on models and theory.

http://physicswor...r-system
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (1) Oct 14, 2013
@Fleetfoot, et al: Is there any realistic estimate for such (ie, ordinary past epoch 'detritus' contribution/proportion) for "dark matter" effects?:)


These are generally called MACHOs, MAssive Compact Halo Objects, (as opposed to WIMPs, who says astronomers don't have a sense of humour). There have been searches for them using microlensing but the highest upper limit is 20% of dark matter, and that is somewhat suspect. A figure of a few percent at most may be more realistic IMHO:

https://en.wikipe...o_object
GSwift7
5 / 5 (2) Oct 15, 2013
and that is somewhat suspect. A figure of a few percent at most may be more realistic IMHO


Yeah, there can't be much of it. Maybe not even a percent. Even if we assume that 'every' solar system ejects a super-jupiter worth of mass, that's still less than a percent of total galaxy mass. Not to mention that a signigicantly large number of solid objects would block light, which would make them indirectly detectable by obscuring background lights.
beleg
1 / 5 (3) Oct 19, 2013
If you are familiar with conservation of momentum, then you know that planets do not just change orbits on their own.-G7

Yes.
http://www.prince...=science
Weak Transfer. Strangely enough the orbitals of our planets can not be 'swapped'.
Placing earth in Venus' orbit and Venus in earths' orbit makes our solar system fall apart. (unstable)