Astronomers have discovered what seems to be a planet, but it is not orbiting around any stars. PHYS.org reports that the planet known as PSO J318.5-22 is 80 light-years from Earth.
An artistic rendition of PSO J318.5-22 . Photo from PHYS.org, credit given to MPIA/V. Ch. Quetz.
Dubbed as a young planet, PSO J318.5-22 is approximately six times the mass of Jupiter. The planet’s heat signature was identified using a survey telescope in Maui.
“We have never before seen an object free-floating in space that that looks like this. It has all the characteristics of young planets found around other stars, but it is drifting out there all alone,” said Dr. Michael Liu of the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
It is said that because PSO J318.5-22 is not orbiting around a host star, it will be easier to study because the bright light that emanates from host stars is not present.
Dr. Niall Deacon of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany explained that PSO J318.5-22 will give researchers better insight into what gas-giant planets are like shortly after they are formed.