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A Planetary-Mass Object Forming Like Stars Do

6 Aug 2014, 22:00 UTC
A Planetary-Mass Object Forming Like Stars Do
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Substellar objects are objects that are not massive enough to support hydrogen fusion in their cores to become fully-fledged stars. The division between stars and substellar objects lies at around ~75 Jupiter-masses. Free-floating objects with ever lower masses and cooler temperatures are continuously being discovered. Some of these objects are in the regime of a few Jupiter-masses. Recently, Luhman (2014) reported the discovery of a remarkably cold and low mass object located at a distance of only 7 light years. This object, identified as WISE 0855-0714, has a temperature of 250 K and a mass of 3 to 10 Jupiter-masses. It is still an open question whether such free-floating planetary-mass objects form in the same way stars do.Figure 1: Artist’s impression of a giant planet. A planetary-mass substellar object would in many ways be similar to giant planets like Jupiter.Joergens et al. (2014) present new studies of a free-floating planetary-mass object known as OTS44. With an estimated age of ~2 million years, OTS44 is relatively young and is still glowing radiantly hot from heat acquired during its formation. OTS44 is estimated to have a temperature of ~1700 K and a mass of ~12 Jupiter-masses. After ~1 billion years, OTS44 is ...

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