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'Lonely' planet not orbiting star found

Washington, Oct. 10 : Astronomers have discovered an exotic young planet that is not orbiting a star.


This free-floating planet, dubbed PSO J318.5-22, is just 80 light-years away from Earth and has a mass about six times that of Jupiter.

The planet formed a mere 12 million years ago.

It was identified from its faint and unique heat signature by the Pan-STARRS 1 (PS1) wide-field survey telescope on Haleakala, Maui.

Follow-up observations using other telescopes in Hawaii show that it has properties similar to those of gas-giant planets found orbiting around young stars. And yet PSO J318.5-22 is all by itself, without a host star.

Team leader Dr. Michael Liu of the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, said that they have never before seen an object free-floating in space that that looks like this.

Liu said that it has all the characteristics of young planets found around other stars, but it is drifting out there all alone.

--ANI (Posted on 10-10-2013)

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