'Homeless' Planet Seen Adrift in Deep Space
It's cold, young, and doesn't orbit a star
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Nov 17, 2012 2:28 PM CST
An artist's rendering of CFBDSIR2149.   (L. Calcada, P. Delorme, Nick Risinger, R. Saito, European Southern Observatory/VVV Consortium)

(Newser) – Astronomers have identified a "homeless" planet for the first time and given it a rather un-catchy label: CFBDSIR2149. This young and very cold planet is drifting about 100 light-years away with a group of roughly 30 stars, but isn't orbiting any of them—which makes its blue light stand out well against the black backdrop of the universe. Astronomers have spotted other homeless-planet candidates but weren't sure if they were really brown dwarfs, the smallest kind of star, the Smithsonian's Surprising Science blog reports.

Theorists have speculated that such drifting planets exist and may even be as common as ordinary stars—but seeing them is the problem. "Looking for planets around their stars is akin to studying a firefly sitting one centimeter away from a distant, powerful car headlight," says the lead author in the study. "This nearby free-floating object offered the opportunity to study the firefly in detail without the dazzling lights of the car messing everything up."

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Showing 3 of 29 comments
Avrahama
Nov 22, 2012 1:49 PM CST
CFBDSIR2149 .... SO is it or isn't it homeless? They just said " "Looking for planets around their stars is akin to studying a firefly sitting one centimetre away from a distant, powerful car headlight," " So... maybe its orbit is so far away from the dwarf star that is SEEMS to be not moving when it's really just moving so frickin slow that you think it's standing still... and how do they know it's a young planet? Did they witness the birth of this solar system? I dunno I find a lot of space news to be hokey at best... I think I'll look into the origin of the article instead of just ranting here... OH TOO LATE! ;)
1492
Nov 19, 2012 8:42 PM CST
Will work for food.
Drewzy
Nov 18, 2012 11:57 AM CST
Well sh_t!! Now the republicans have an entire planet to hate!