The Discovery Of 'Monster Planet' Stuns Scientists, They Don’t Even Think It’s A Planet
If you’re one of those people who believe in alien life and is just waiting until the day we make the first contact, then chances are the discovery of a new planet gets you quite excited. After all, our universe is vast and so much of it is undiscovered. The new planet is estimated to be over 13 times the mass of Jupiter, which is so huge that astronomers are considering the possibility that it’s not actually a planet.
Earth, as a planet, is on the relatively small side of things. Sure, Mercury, Venus, and even Mars are smaller, but compare Earth to the giants of our solar system, Saturn, and Jupiter. Jupiter has a diameter that is more than 11 times that of Earth!
Now, Nasa's Spitzer Space Telescope has found a new planet, called OGLE-2016-BLG-1190Lb, which is 13 times the mass of Jupiter. It's so large that astronomers are contemplating it may not be a planet.
Researchers around the world have reported the discovery, which they say: Raises the question of whether such objects are real 'planets'(formed within the disks of their hosts) or 'failed stars' (low mass objects formed by gas fragmentation). The planet’s unusual size might actually mean that it’s a brown dwarf.
Brown dwarfs are infrequently called unsuccessful stars, and, like a loyal star, beget heat. However, brownish-red dwarfs are most weaker than categorical method stars and are incompetent to furnish chief alloy like an object does.
The researchers said:
"Since the existence of the brown dwarf desert is the signature of different formation mechanisms for stars and planets, the extremely close proximity of OGLE-2016-BLG-1190Lb to this desert raises the question of whether it is truly a ‘planet’ (by formation mechanism) and therefore reacts back upon its role tracing the galactic distribution of planets.”
The planet is quite far away, at approximately 22,000 light years, so it's not exactly something we can go and check, but further observations could help clarify the object’s status, and potentially help redefine how science thinks about low-mass stars, brown dwarfs, and oversized exoplanets.
On 9 January 1992 Aleksander Wolszczan and Dale Frail announced the discovery of two planets orbiting the pulsar PSR 1257+12, generally considered the first detection of exoplanets (a planet outside our solar system that orbits a star). Since then, Nasa reports we have confirmed 3,550 exoplanets.