Brown dwarf or massive exoplanet detected with powerful magnetic field

Artist's conception of SIMP J01365663+0933473 an object with a magnetic field 200 times more powerful than Jupiter’s and lives 20 light years from Earth

Brown dwarf or massive exoplanet detected with powerful magnetic field

Originally detected in 2016 using the Very Large Array (VLA) telescope in New Mexico, the newly identified object was initially considered a brown dwarf.

"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". It also has a surface temperature of 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to minus 234 degrees Fahrenheit for Jupiter and 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit for the Sun.

The massive planet is 20 light years away from Earth. For comparison, the Sun has a surface temperature of 5,500 degrees Celsius or nearly 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Its magnetic field is 200 times that of Jupiter.

Brown dwarfs are generally "too massive to be considered planets, yet not massive enough to sustain nuclear fusion of hydrogen in their cores - the process that powers stars", the researchers note. The first brown dwarf was discovered in 1995, although they were first theorized in the 1960s.

The surprising find is peculiar because it could be a planet or a brown dwarf.

Astronomers have discovered a rogue planet that's nearly too big to be considered a planet - and to top it off, the rogue object is a magnetic powerhouse.

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A further study carried out previous year revealed that SIMP was part of a young group of stars.

They now believe it's a much younger object and its mass is, therefore, smaller than originally thought - meaning it could theoretically be classified as a planet in its own right.

It is these radio signatures emitted by the auroras of such rogue objects that allow researchers to detect them.

Simultaneously, Dr. Kao's team observed SIMP0136 in a new study at even higher radio frequencies and confirmed that its magnetic field was even stronger than first measured - more than 200 times stronger than Jupiter's. One of those things is a strong aurora, often called "Northern Lights" here on Earth.

The research team have discovered that the planet's magnetic field is incredibly strong - around 200 times stronger than Jupiter's - giving it a strong aurora. "We think these mechanisms can work not only in brown dwarfs, but also in both gas giant and terrestrial planets". However, a nearby moon or another orbiting planet may be the answer.

"[This presents] huge challenges to our understanding of the dynamo mechanism that produces the magnetic fields in brown dwarfs and exoplanets and helps drive the auroras we see", said Gregg Hallinan, study co-author and assistant professor of astronomy at the California Institute of Astronomy, in a statement.

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