Spotted: A free-floating, planetary-mass object in family of stars (pic inside)!

The newfound object, termed WISEA J114724.10204021.3, or just WISEA 1147 for short, may help scientists understand planets without stars.

Updated: Apr 20, 2016, 09:30 AM IST
Spotted: A free-floating, planetary-mass object in family of stars (pic inside)!
Image credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

New Delhi: Scientists have identified a young free-floating world that sits alone in space.

Using data from NASA's WISE and 2MASS sky surveys, astronomers found the object in TW Hydrae -- a young, 10-million-year-old association of stars.

The newfound object, termed WISEA J114724.10204021.3, or just WISEA 1147 for short, may help scientists understand planets without stars.

According to NASA, the object is thought to be an exceptionally low-mass "brown dwarf," which is a star that lacked enough mass to burn nuclear fuel and glow like a star.

The object, which would appear reddish in hue, has a mass between about 5 and 10 times that of Jupiter.

"With continued monitoring, it may be possible to trace the history of WISEA 1147 to confirm whether or not it formed in isolation," said Adam Schneider of the University of Toledo in Ohio, lead author of a new study accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal.

Even as astronomers announced in 2011, that our galaxy is likely teeming with free-floating planets, the surprising discovery gave rise to the following questions: Where did these objects come from? Are they planets that were ejected from solar systems, or are they actually light-weight stars called brown dwarfs that formed alone in space like stars?

(Source: NASA)