Lately, astronomers have been searching for life on the MOONS of planets, but they've also discovered a new planet--one that wandering through the galaxy "homeless," rather than orbiting around a star.
Researcher Jonathan Gagné says, "Over the past few years, several objects of this type have been identified, but their existence could not be established (before)."
Astrophysicist Étienne Artigau says, "Although theorists had established the existence of this type of very cold and young planet, one had never been observed until (now)."
This is the first isolated planet that the astronomers have seen. Perhaps it was flung away during its formation, instead of being tied by gravity to a star. This discovery has been sought after for more than a decade, and supports theories that suggest that these kinds of isolated objects are much more numerous than currently believed.
Artigau says, "This object was discovered during a scan that covered the equivalent of 1,000 times the surface of the full moon. We observed hundreds of millions of stars and planets, but we only found one homeless planet in our neighborhood. Now we will be looking for them amongst an astronomical number of sources further afield. It's like looking for a single needle in amongst thousands of haystacks."
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