French and Canadian researchers observe a lonely, free-floating planet for the first time [fr]
French and Canadian researchers observe a free-floating planet for the first time
It is a world first: a planet has been observed roaming free of any fixed orbit. It is also the first time that a planet-sized stellar object has been found this close to our solar system.
Hawaii, France, Québec, Chile – This extraterrestrial discovery is the result of close collaboration between France and Canada. The data was collected by the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Legacy Survey (CFHLST) and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (ESO - VLT).
The data was analyzed by researchers at l’Université de Montréal and a number of French astronomers, including the project’s distinguished lead researcher, Philippe Delorme, from the Grenoble Observatory’s Astrophysics Laboratory.
The planet called CFBDSIR2149 has a methane-rich, inhospitable atmosphere with an average temperature of 400°C (750°F). Its diameter is ten times greater than the Earth’s, and it is four to seven times heavier than Jupiter, the heaviest planet in the solar system.
This breakthrough confirms theories of how stars are formed and could also confirm that this kind of object occurs much more frequently than was previously thought. However, it is still difficult to observe such dark objects, even when they are as close as this one: only 100 light-years away.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! This breakthrough is just in time to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the European Southern Observatory
An informative video on the European Southern Observatory website
More info about Université de Montréal and this project
Or in all European languages on the ESO website
Credit : Crédit: ESO/L. Calçada/P. Delorme/Nick Risinger (skysurvey.org)/R. Saito/VVV Consortium
Article created on November 14th, 2012