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Breaking NASA News: Lone Planetary-Mass Object Found Free-floating In Our Galaxy

First Posted: Apr 22, 2016 06:24 AM EDT
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Astronomers have long believed that the galaxy teems with free-floating planets. These lonely worlds which are, as a matter of fact, quietly sitting in the dark space without a host sun and companion planets, outnumber the stars in the Milky Way galaxy.

According to USA Today, NASA newly discovered a lone free-floating planetary-mass object, called WISEA 1147. This discovery offers clues on how free-floating planets form in our galaxy.

The WISEA 1147 was discovered with the use of classified information from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) as well as information from the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS). The WISEA 1147, which is 5 to 10 times the mass of Jupiter, lies within a young star family.

In a news article published by NASA, scientists believed that such free-floating planets may have been driven out from their solar systems or maybe brown dwarfs or stars, having masses that are too low to burn nuclear fuel to ignite as a star.

The WISEA 1147 is theorized as a brown dwarf because of its location within a group of stars.  By planetary standards, the WISEA 1147 is about 10-million-years-old which is actually young.

NASA representative said in a statement that all planets require at least ten million years to form, and it takes even a long period of time to get themselves ejected from a solar system. Thus, WISEA 1147 is likely a brown dwarf. Free-floating planets as well as brown dwarfs, such as WISEA 1147, are much easier to study than regular planets since they are not generally outshone by a host star.

"We are at the beginning of what will become a hot field - trying to determine the nature of the free-floating population and how many are planets versus brown dwarfs," Davy Kirkpatrick of NASA's Infrared Processing and Analysis Center said in a statement as cited by USA Today.

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