Artist's impression of the enormous object known as SIMP J01365663+0933473
07 August, 2018, 11:41
The auroras on our planet are caused by its magnetic field interacting with the solar wind (the continuous flow of charged particles from the sun's upper atmosphere, known as the corona, that permeates the solar system). Their findings were published this week, showing that this is the first time that the observatory's radio-telescope could detect the object outside our solar system.
They're calling it a "rogue" planet because it appears to be travelling through space without any kind of orbit around a parent star.
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 typical of stars. It also has a surface temperature of 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to minus 234 degrees Fahrenheit for Jupiter and 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit for the Sun. The object is about twelve times as massive as Jupiter and has a surprisingly powerful magnetic field.
Zeroing in on this new find could lead to new techniques being developed to help search for alien worlds.
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The unusual object sits in a grey area between a star and a planet, and was originally classed as a "brown dwarf" - a failed star.
SIMP is not small; and is about 12 times larger than Jupiter and has a strong magnetic field, say the astronomers.
The newly identified object is classified as a brown dwarf due to its mass.
"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. At its size, it's right between the size of a planet and a failed star, so scientists will need to study it further to determine exactly what it is. "This. object is exciting because studying its magnetic dynamo mechanisms can give us new insights on how the same type of mechanisms can operate in planets beyond our solar system", Kao said.
Such a strong magnetic field 'presents huge challenges to our understanding of the dynamo mechanism that produces the magnetic fields in brown dwarfs and exoplanets and helps drive the auroras we see, ' said Gregg Hallinan, of Caltech.
The Caltech team that originally detected its radio emission in 2016 had observed it again in a new study at even higher radio frequencies and confirmed that its magnetic field was even stronger than what they had measured the first time.
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