Huge Planet's Aurora 200 Times as Strong as Jupiter's

Jan Cross
August 7, 2018

Researchers have discovered a "rogue" planet outside of our solar system using the Very Large Array (VLA), the first time such a discovery has been made using a radio telescope. This first of its kind object is around 20 light years away from Earth. Hoverer, the new object generates a magnetic field 200 times a powerful as Jupiter's.

"This particular object is exciting because studying its magnetic dynamo mechanisms can give us new insights on how the same type of mechanisms can operate in extrasolar planets - planets beyond our solar system", lead study author Melodie Kao, an astrophysicist at Arizona State University, said in a statement from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory published August 2.

The planet produces a magnetic field around 200 times greater than that of the largest planet in our Solar System.

"This object is right at the boundary between a planet and a brown dwarf, or "failed star", and is giving us some surprises", Dr Melodie Kao and astronomer at Arizona State University told The Independent.

A brown dwarf is an object too large to be a planet, but isn't big enough to sustain the nuclear fusion of hydrogen in its core that is vital to stars.

Last year, Dr. Artigau's team discovered that the object was part of a very young group of stars.

The exact difference between a large gas planet and a brown dwarf is a bone of contention for scientists, with debate raging over what defines one or the other.

Yet, all these unusual features still can't explain how the exoplanet got its incredibly strong magnetic field - a mystery that astronomers are still trying to crack.

This Hubble telescope snapshot shows auroras on Jupiter
This Hubble telescope snapshot shows auroras on Jupiter

"When it was announced that SIMP J01365663+0933473 had a mass near the deuterium-burning limit, I had just finished analyzing its newest VLA data", said Kao.

It also boasts scorching surface temperatures of around 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit.

The object is what scientists call a brown dwarf.

"This particular object is exciting because studying its magnetic dynamo mechanisms can give us new insights on how the same type of mechanisms can operate in extrasolar planets - planets beyond our solar system", said Kao.

The new object is wandering freely through the galaxy, untethered by an orbit to any star.

This is known as the "deuterium-burning limit" and happens around 13 Jupiter masses.

She continued: "We think these mechanisms can work not only in brown dwarfs, but also in both gas giant and terrestrial planets".

The first of such astronomical bodies was observed in 1995 and the scientists are still trying to understand more about the radio emissions and magnetic fields of five brown dwarves. It is a component of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO).

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