Newly identified object is 12 times bigger than Jupiter
A planet more than 12 times bigger than Jupiter has been found drifting alone through space around 20 light years away from Earth.
The rogue planet is not attached to any star, and is the first object of its kind to be discovered using a radio telescope.
Both its mass and the enormous strength of its magnetic field challenge what scientists know about the variety of astronomical objects found in the depths of space.
“This object is right at the boundary between a planet and a brown dwarf, or ‘failed star’, and is giving us some surprises that can potentially help us understand magnetic processes on both stars and planets,” said Dr Melodie Kao, an astronomer at Arizona State University.
Brown dwarves are difficult objects to categorise – they are both too huge to be considered planets and not big enough to be considered stars.
Originally detected in 2016 using the Very Large Array (VLA) telescope in New Mexico, the newly identified planet was initially considered a brown dwarf.