Bizarre Rogue ‘Planet’ with Incredible Auroras Puzzles Scientists
An artist’s depiction of the newly described object. Credit: Chuck Carter; NRAO/AUI/NSF/Caltech
A rogue, planet-size object 20 light-years away from Earth has stunned astronomers with its incredibly powerful magnetic field.
The scientists found that the object’s magnetic field is more than 200 times stronger than Jupiter’s, which, in turn, is between 16 and 54 times stronger than Earth’s, according to NASA. How the object, which scientists call SIMP J01365663+0933473, can maintain a magnetic field so strong, as well as generate spectacular auroras, is still unclear.
“This particular object is exciting because studying its magnetic dynamo mechanisms can give us new insights on how the same type of mechanisms can operate in extrasolar planets — planets beyond our solar system,” lead study author Melodie Kao, an astrophysicist at Arizona State University, said in a statement from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory published Aug. 2. [The Strangest Alien Planets We Know in Pictures]
And it’s not just the magnetic mechanism that’s leaving scientists with questions right now — there are plenty of other mysteries about the object, which scientists first discovered in 2016.