This artist’s impression shows the free-floating planet CFBDSIR J214947.2-040308.9. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada/P. Delorme/Nick Risinger/R. Saito/VVV Consortium
Rogue planets – also known as free floating planets – are pretty intriguing. They are not orbiting a star but instead are wandering through the galaxy, having been either forcibly ejected from a solar system or having formed very early on in the Universe. While only a handful of these planets have been actually found, astronomers estimate these vagrant worlds could vastly outnumber stars. In fact, it’s been suggested there could be 100,000 times more rogue planets than stars in our Milky Way galaxy alone!
The link between the new object and the moving group is the vital clue that allows astronomers to find the age of the newly discovered object. Without knowing its age, it’s not possible to know whether it is really a planet, or a brown dwarf, a “failed” star that lack the bulk to trigger the reactions that make stars shine.
This is the first isolated planetary mass object ever identified in a moving group, and the association with this group makes it the most interesting free-floating planet candidate identified so far.
This closeup of an image captured by the SOFI instrument on ESO’s New Technology Telescope at the La Silla Observatory shows the free-floating planet CFBDSIR J214947.2-040308.9 in infrared light. This object, which appears as a faint blue dot at the centre of the picture, is the closest such object to the Solar System. Credit: ESO/P. Delorme.
We see this star system as a single star, but it’s really 3 stars. Of the 3, Proxima is closer to our sun than any other known star.
The Alpha Centauri system is the closest star system to our sun. On our sky’s dome, we see this multiple system as a single star the third-brightest star visible from Earth. Follow the links below to learn more about Alpha Centauri.
The Alpha Centauri system probably consists of three stars
Proxima is the closest of the three to Earth
In 2016, scientists announced a planet for Proxima, called Proxima b
Nono| Phases of the Moon | Science Video for Kids - 4:20
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