Rogue exoplanet alters magnetism theories

A rogue planet known as SIMP J01365663+093347 could change the way researchers identify or discovery distant worlds.
By Joseph Scalise | Aug 07, 2018
Researchers at Arizona State University have found a large "rogue" planet with a strange magnetic field floating around our region of the universe, a new study published in The Astrophysical Journalreports.

The team used the Very Large Array radio telescope to locate the celestial body, which sits only 20 years from Earth. It is 12.7 times more massive than Jupiter and is one of the largest planets on record. In fact, if it was any larger it would be a brown dwarf.

"This object is right at the boundary between a planet and a brown dwarf, or 'failed star,' and is giving us some surprises that can potentially help us understand magnetic processes on both stars and planets," said lead author Melodie Kao, a researcher at Arizona State University, according toScience Alert.

While failed stars were once thought to not give off radio waves, in 2001 scientists discovered they have a lot of magnetic activity. At that time they also found that the bodies are able to create strong auroras.

Though solar winds create many auroras here on Earth, researchers are not quite sure how the lights appear on brown dwarfs.

The newly discovered object -- known as SIMP J01365663+093347 -- could shed light on that process.

The planet is 200 million years old, and it has a surface temperature of 1517 degrees Fahrenheit. It also has a magnetic field that is 200 times stronger than Jupiter's.

The team in the recent study believes they recorded radio emissions from the planet's auroras, which challenges the way scientists understand the processes in both brown dwarfs and exoplanets.

"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," said Kao, according to Discover Magazine. "We think these mechanisms can work not only in brown dwarfs, but also in both gas giant and terrestrial planets."

As the team first found SIMP J01365663+0933473 through the Very Large Array's auroral radio emission, it means the detection methods used in the discovery could be used to locate other exoplanets as well.

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