Lonely Planet And Its Distant Star Are 1 Trillion Kilometres Apart

First Posted: Jan 26, 2016 11:52 AM EST

Astronomers have discovered a lonely planet along with its massive distant star, which are 1 trillion kilometers apart from each other, according to a study. The lonely planet was identified as 2MASS J2126. The space between the floating planet and its orbiting star is about 7000 times the distance between the Earth and the sun.

"2MASS J2126 is more than 700 times further away from its host star...but how such a wide planetary system forms and survives remains an open question," Dr. Simon Murphy, coauthor of the study from the Australian National University, said in a news release.

These floating planets are often identified as gas giants, which are similar to Jupiter which lacks nuclear reactions. 2MASS J2126 was discovered during an infrared sky survey and was later categorized as a young and hence low mass object. The researchers claimed that 2MASS J2126 belongs to a 45 million year old group of stars and brown dwarfs, which are known as the 'Tucana Horologium Association.' The researchers found that 2MASS J2126 along with another young star TYC 9486-927-1 are moving through space together and they are about 104 light years from the sun. 2MASS J2126 is relatively young and is low in mass, which categorizes it as "free floating planet."

The researchers estimated that 2MASS J2126's mass is about 11.6 to 15 times the mass of Jupiter. The distance between 2MASS J2126 and its parent star is one of the widest orbits of any planet found around another star. Such a distance could take about 900,000 years to complete one orbit, according to the researchers.

"This is the widest planet system found so far and both the members of it have been known for eight years," said Dr. Niall Deacon, lead author of the study. "But nobody had made the link between the objects before. The planet is not quite as lonely as we first thought, but it's certainly in a very long distance relationship."

The findings of this study were published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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