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Probable Rogue Planet Spotted 155

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the omarion-nebula dept.
Maow writes with news of a sighting of a rogue gas giant: "'This object was discovered during a scan that covered the equivalent of 1,000 times the [area] of the full moon,' said study co-author Etienne Artigau of the University of Montreal. 'We observed hundreds of millions of stars and planets, but we only found one homeless planet in our neighborhood.' This planet appears to be an astonishingly young 50-120 million years old. The original paper is on the arXiv. Here's hoping the Mayan End-of-World-2012 people don't seize upon this as some kind of impending rogue planet on a collision course with Earth, but one can expect it'll be bantered about on such forums." From the article: "The team believe it has a temperature of about 400C and a mass between four and seven times that of Jupiter - well short of the mass limit that would make it a likely brown dwarf."
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Probable Rogue Planet Spotted

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  • by future assassin (639396) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @02:13PM (#41982345) Homepage

    can reach earth before they get too far?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @02:14PM (#41982351)

    Spotted it! Those puppeteers are going to have to come up with a new plan now, or give me one million stars to not reveal the secret.

  • It's a rogue planet!
    • Why hope? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @02:24PM (#41982491)

      First, in the summary you forget to identify the distance: 100ly. Well, that pretty much rules out any worry of a collision even if at such a distance the alignment would be astronomically unlikely to be one which would allow for a collision.

      Second, why does anyone care if there is a 'spike' in discussion with the 2012 doomsayers? You think there WOULDN'T be a spike in discussion around December 2012? And who cares if there is? The good news, is that by January, all the 2012 end of the world nonsense will be over (Even if they are right ;) )

      My problem isn't any of that however. My problem is THIS travesty from the article:

      One tricky part is determining if rogue planet candidates are as massive as the "failed stars" known as brown dwarfs, further along in stellar evolution but without enough mass to spark the nuclear fusion that causes starlight.

      It's so freaking wrong I can't even parse it to bitch about it in any specific manner. And to me, that's the worst thing that could happen. If I can't complain, I don't want to live on this planet anymore.

      • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland.yahoo@com> on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @02:31PM (#41982587) Homepage Journal

        You are part of the problem. Let me explain.

        ", I don't want to live on this planet anymore."
        should be:
        ", I don't want them to live on this planet anymore."

        Think Ark B.

      • Re:Why hope? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jason Levine (196982) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @02:38PM (#41982671)

        The good news, is that by January, all the 2012 end of the world nonsense will be over

        The bad news is that, by January, the next end of the world nonsense will begin.

        • by osu-neko (2604)

          The good news, is that by January, all the 2012 end of the world nonsense will be over

          The bad news is that, by January, the next end of the world nonsense will begin.

          Optimist... ;)

        • The world won't end 12/21/2012

          It will RE-BOOT!

          • SYSTEM CRASH: RESTART Y/N?

            YES

            RESTORE Y/N?:

            YES

            "Warning: Incoming Data."

            "Thank the User! We are saved!"

            stupidlamefilterstupidlamefilterstupidlamefilter stupidlamefilterstupidlamefilter

      • Re:Why hope? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @02:47PM (#41982815) Homepage

        Second, why does anyone care if there is a 'spike' in discussion with the 2012 doomsayers? You think there WOULDN'T be a spike in discussion around December 2012? And who cares if there is? The good news, is that by January, all the 2012 end of the world nonsense will be over (Even if they are right ;) )

        No, such people don't adjust their beliefs to match reality. There will be endless theories about how it really meant 2013, how the calendar is off by a little, or how we're just reading it wrong.

        In fact, I expect them to spend a lot of time defending their position and trying to adapt their broken theory so it isn't quite so broken (according to their logic that is).

        Expect this bit of silliness to drag on for years.

      • Re:Why hope? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DaveAtFraud (460127) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @02:55PM (#41982919) Homepage Journal

        ...Second, why does anyone care if there is a 'spike' in discussion with the 2012 doomsayers? You think there WOULDN'T be a spike in discussion around December 2012? And who cares if there is? The good news, is that by January, all the 2012 end of the world nonsense will be over (Even if they are right ;) )...

        I actually find the "2012 end of the world" hokum to be quite useful. It helps me identify the idiots. Somehow get the Mayan 2012 calendar end as the subject of conversation in a group and then note who buys into it. Do not ask these people anything in the way of meaningful questions. Stick to subjects like what they watched on television if you must talk to them although even that can be scary.

        Cheers,
        Dave

        • Or

          "Yeah, it's really terrifying to think about the end of the world and wonder what will happen. We've got to do some crazy life-affirming stuff while we still have the chance..."

          • by tehcyder (746570)

            Or

            "Yeah, it's really terrifying to think about the end of the world and wonder what will happen. We've got to do some crazy life-affirming stuff while we still have the chance..."

            It's probably less time consuming just to buy some Rohipnol.

        • by jd2112 (1535857)

          ...Second, why does anyone care if there is a 'spike' in discussion with the 2012 doomsayers? You think there WOULDN'T be a spike in discussion around December 2012? And who cares if there is? The good news, is that by January, all the 2012 end of the world nonsense will be over (Even if they are right ;) )...

          I actually find the "2012 end of the world" hokum to be quite useful. It helps me identify the idiots. Somehow get the Mayan 2012 calendar end as the subject of conversation in a group and then note who buys into it. Do not ask these people anything in the way of meaningful questions. Stick to subjects like what they watched on television if you must talk to them although even that can be scary.

          Cheers, Dave

          Personally i find reality tv a much better argument for the world ending soon than the Myan calendar.

          • ...Second, why does anyone care if there is a 'spike' in discussion with the 2012 doomsayers? You think there WOULDN'T be a spike in discussion around December 2012? And who cares if there is? The good news, is that by January, all the 2012 end of the world nonsense will be over (Even if they are right ;) )...

            I actually find the "2012 end of the world" hokum to be quite useful. It helps me identify the idiots. Somehow get the Mayan 2012 calendar end as the subject of conversation in a group and then note who buys into it. Do not ask these people anything in the way of meaningful questions. Stick to subjects like what they watched on television if you must talk to them although even that can be scary.

            Cheers,
            Dave

            Personally i find reality tv a much better argument for the world ending soon than the Myan calendar.

            That's why I said:

            "Stick to subjects like what they watched on television if you must talk to them although even that can be scary."

            Cheers,
            Dave

        • You just reminded me of something far scarier than the 2012 Mayan doomsayers when nothing happens.

          What if, by pure dumb luck, something DOES happen? You know, I'd almost welcome Armageddon because there would be no living with them then.

          • by tehcyder (746570)

            You just reminded me of something far scarier than the 2012 Mayan doomsayers when nothing happens.

            What if, by pure dumb luck, something DOES happen? You know, I'd almost welcome Armageddon because there would be no living with them then.

            If, by pure dumb luck, the world does end in 2012, you aren't going to have to worry about a few stupid people, or indeed anything else.

        • Better suggestion. Offer to buy their house. Car. Or other valuable item.
          They are not going to need it. :)
        • Do not ask these people anything in the way of meaningful questions. Stick to subjects like what they watched on television if you must talk to them although even that can be scary.

          Cheers,

          If you must talk to them, do it in a context where you are attempting to sell them something. Chances are, they will buy.

      • by jittles (1613415)

        First, in the summary you forget to identify the distance: 100ly. Well, that pretty much rules out any worry of a collision even if at such a distance the alignment would be astronomically unlikely to be one which would allow for a collision.

        I can't believe you are doubting the Mayans. You watch, that planet will move those 100 light years faster than you can blink. Dec 21 is only a month away!

      • by Maow (620678)

        First, in the summary you forget to identify the distance: 100ly.

        Oh. Shit. I thought I had that, as it is rather important. I guess I was too tired and too fascinated that this thing may not have coexisted with the last of the dinosaurs as it's so "young".

        Well, that pretty much rules out any worry of a collision even if at such a distance the alignment would be astronomically unlikely to be one which would allow for a collision.

        Second, why does anyone care if there is a 'spike' in discussion with the 2012 doomsayers? You think there WOULDN'T be a spike in discussion around December 2012? And who cares if there is? The good news, is that by January, all the 2012 end of the world nonsense will be over (Even if they are right ;) )

        Talk about the Mayan "prophecy" will be unavoidable around the end of December, but if there's an up-tick now and it lasts until xmas it will have become beyond funny. I'll have been all mocked-out long before then.

        And, that doomsday nonsense will spill over to all kinds of places where we will not want to encounter

        • My problem isn't any of that however. My problem is THIS travesty from the article:

          One tricky part is determining if rogue planet candidates are as massive as the "failed stars" known as brown dwarfs, further along in stellar evolution but without enough mass to spark the nuclear fusion that causes starlight.

          It's so freaking wrong I can't even parse it to bitch about it in any specific manner. And to me, that's the worst thing that could happen. If I can't complain, I don't want to live on this planet anym

          • by Chris Burke (6130)

            Use of the term evolution in that context, but it's not terribly inaccurate.

            If you accept that part of the evolution of a star is the process of accreting enough material to reach the minimal stellar mass, then it's accurate to say that a brown dwarf got farther along that path than a planet before it stopped. And yes "evolution" is the correct term in this context.

            'Failed star' As if it tried, but just couldn't pull it off.

            Exactly right. It accreted mass from a cloud of gas and dust and got pretty big, but just couldn't collect enough for whatever reason to sustain fusion and become a star. A "failed star". It's poetic, but accurate.

          • If you read the quote directly, you'll note that they say "failed star". They also mention, "further along in stellar evolution," which implies that it once was a star which burned off its mass. Ignoring that they used "further" instead of "farther" for a physical timescale.
            • by Chris Burke (6130)

              which implies that it once was a star which burned off its mass.

              It doesn't imply that. Brown dwarfs were never stars. Fusion may occur, but not in a sustained fashion like in a star. The rate of fusion will just drop and drop along with the temperature of the brown dwarf. Stars on the other hand maintain a more-or-less steady rate of fusion for millions or billions of years.

              What's interesting is that the smaller a star is the longer it lasts, and the least of the actual stars, the red dwarfs, are expected to be burning their hydrogen fuel for trillions of years, so

      • by chrismcb (983081)

        And who cares if there is? The good news, is that by January, all the 2012 end of the world nonsense will be over (Even if they are right ;)

        Do you think it will really be over? I'm sure a few people will claim it was a miscalculation.

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        First, in the summary you forget to identify the distance: 100ly. Well, that pretty much rules out any worry of a collision

        Ha! Cling to your out-dated "nothing can travel faster than the speed of light" comfort blanket if you like. That's just what THEY want you to do.

    • by gapagos (1264716) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @02:29PM (#41982561)

      No, it's Cowboy Neal's mom. She's so big, she can't even stay into orbit.

    • It's a rogue planet!

      Indeed. From TFA:

      An international team went on a vast hunt for the planets using the Canada France Hawaii Telescope on Hawaii's Mauna Kea and the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile and came up with just one candidate.

      "This object was discovered during a scan that covered the equivalent of 1,000 times the [area] of the full moon," said study co-author Etienne Artigau of the University of Montreal.

      "We observed hundreds of millions of stars and planets, but we only found one homeless planet in our neighbourhood."

      They seemed surprised there was just the one... but there's always one isn't there?!

  • homeless (Score:5, Funny)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @02:15PM (#41982373)

    we only found one homeless planet in our neighborhood

    Either the galactic economy is going well, or they are good at hiding the problems.

    • that's pretty good. Wish I had some karma to share.
    • we only found one homeless planet in our neighborhood

      Either the galactic economy is going well, or they are good at hiding the problems.

      Perhaps we're living in a Potemkin galaxy but no one bothered to tell us.

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      we only found one homeless planet in our neighborhood

      Either the galactic economy is going well, or they are good at hiding the problems.

      Cue the anti-Obama "jokes"...

  • by Muad'Dave (255648) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @02:16PM (#41982387) Homepage

    Have they found Genesis? Genesis allowed is not! Is planet forbidden!

    • No its not Genesis it is s Nemesis [wikipedia.org] they will find a small habitalabe moon orbiting the planet with little vegetation no animals and lots of mycelium like organism covering the planet surface.

  • How's that? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mcmonkey (96054) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @02:17PM (#41982405) Homepage

    Given that the definition of a planet is dependent on the relationship between objects (planet and star, planet and moon, planet and other objects in the same orbit), how can something be classified as a type of planet if there are no observations of that object in relation to other objects in a planetary system?

    • Re:How's that? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by icebike (68054) * on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @02:23PM (#41982477)

      And how do you determine the age of some random rocky mass that you can't even image?

      • by emho24 (2531820)
        I would like to know this as well.
      • Re:How's that? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Walking The Walk (1003312) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @02:39PM (#41982685)

        And how do you determine the age of some random rocky mass that you can't even image?

        According to the BBC article, they simply guessed the age. The sub-brown dwarf or rogue planet seems to be travelling with a group of stars, and they've estimated the age of the stars to be 50 - 120 million years. It's a form of extra-solar profiling: That thing over there isn't a star, but it's hanging out with those other stars, so it must the same age as them. (Which is apparently OK to do for stars, but not people?)

        • by GodInHell (258915)

          (Which is apparently OK to do for stars, but not people?)

          Don't tell that to the dataminers, you'll destroy their minds. That's basically the only reason Facebook and the other networks have value - the ability to infer the traits of unknown individuals from the expressed traits of their connections.

        • Re:How's that? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @03:13PM (#41983117)

          Not only is it ok to do with people, it's also pretty helpful. In fact, it's pretty much the basis for any demographical assumption.

          Hang out at the mall, typically around 4pm-8pm, with a bunch of people aged 14-17 and I can be fairly sure that your texting plan is well utilized.

          Take a look at a bus headed towards a slots 'casino'. You can see everyone in the bus but the driver is 60+ years old. Want to wager on the age of the person in the lavatory?

          Stop by the maternity ward of a hospital. Glance through the glass and take a guess at the age of the person in the third crib from the right.

          The nursery example above I like because for these new stars, there are regions where stars tend to be of similar age, composition, dispersal density. If you look at a region of space where everything is roughly the same age, or same type, or composition, it would be exceptionally odd to find something that was different.

          A perfect situation to apply Occam's Razor in my opinion. If everything else is pretty much normal to the region, then you would need a special case to describe something not normal to the area. For example:

          1. Planet formed elsewhere, and wandered in just as the stars formed. (Requires extra steps for this to be true, and the original hypothesis to be false)

          2. Planet formed before the stars in the region and the stars formed later. (Requires the planet to acquire enough gas to become large, but somehow stopped aggregating matter in a region which has enough to form stars, long enough for OTHER gravitationally strong objects to amass enough to becoem stars)

          I can go on, but it gets complex.

          A planet forming elsewhere would have an extremely high velocity relative to the velocity of the stars in the region. If you can detect it now, then you can detect it later. And 100 LY is close enough that you wouldn't have to wait long to determine the magnitude of that motion. You would know if it was 'just passing through', and since it is a rogue planet, by definition it isn't caught up with any of the stars and thus 'just passing through means it must be at least as old as the distance from the 'formation region' / velocity. But if it is travelling with the stars of that region, then it is very unlikely that it originated elsewhere and thus the question of "How could a very massive planet form in a region with enough matter to form fully fledged stars PAUSE in it's aggregation of matter?"

      • Re:How's that? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Baloroth (2370816) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @02:47PM (#41982813)

        Based on a quick scan of the paper, it looks like they did a spectral and photometry analysis based on it's estimated size, compared it to their atmospheric models, and determined a probable age. They did image it, BTW, just not very clearly since it is pretty far away (sticks out like a proverbial sore thumb on infrared, thanks to it's warmth). They also matched that to probable origins based on it's path and determined a likely group to which it belongs, which helps confirm the age slightly. Note that this estimate is rather tentative, since it's hard to say exactly.

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        And how do you determine the age of some random rocky mass that you can't even image?

        Maybe it wasn't there the last time anyone looked in the same place.

        I'm no astronomer, but that seems fairly straightforward.

    • Re:How's that? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Zephyn (415698) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @02:27PM (#41982533)

      Exoplanets use a different set of definitions according to the IAU [wikipedia.org]

    • by locopuyo (1433631)
      Maybe it used to be a planet.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Blish (who is completely out of favour as an SF writer - too intellectual) pointed out that drives which manipulate gravity or space need not be attached to a vehicle - they can just be attached to anything that you want to move. His "Cities in Flight" series describes whole commercial cities which specialise in specific services - often mining or refining - traveling the galaxy looking for work.

    At one point a small planet is provided with propulsion in this way. Perhaps.....

  • prediction of the end of the world all you want. But on the next day you must promise to never, ever, talk about the end of the world.

  • by Konster (252488)

    Rogue planet all by its lonesome?

    Let's name it Han Solo.

    • It has one moon, named Chewie. And something else that isn't quite a moon...

    • by Talderas (1212466)

      I thought the definition of a planet required that the entity have cleared it's orbit. If this entity has no orbit then it has no orbit to clear and since it can't clear an orbit it can't be a planet....

  • by smitty97 (995791) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @02:32PM (#41982601)
    Let me know when they discover a nethack planet.
    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      The first image and spectrograph from the Very Large Telescope Array of the possible nethack planet shows what scientists say appears to be "a purple lower-case 'h'".

      "It may just be a type of dwarf," the lead scientist on the project said, "and it does not appear to be heading towards us. There's no reason to be alarmed."

      In related news the head of NIS was forced to resign yesterday, when in the aftermath of this discovery he advocated the development of Scroll of Genocide technology "as a necessary and pr

  • by Trepidity (597) <.delirium-slashdot. .at. .hackish.org.> on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @02:35PM (#41982641)

    For details we turn to our usual correspondent [wikipedia.org]...

  • The good news: It is 100 light years away from Earth so there's no way for it to reach us in time.

    The not so good news: 100 light years is nothing cosmic-distance-wise. If our detection capabilities can let us spot a Super-Jupiter sized object 100 light years away, are there smaller object that are closer, but still pose a threat? This is completely unrelated to the Mayan Apocalypse nonsense. We should improve our detection abilities mainly to spot asteroids headed our way in time to prevent a catastroph

    • by Anonymous Coward

      A light year is so far as to be practically infinite distance from a "worrying about things happening in your grandchildren't lifetime" point of view.

      The asteroids that can hit Earth are pretty much all inside the orbit of Jupiter, and detection in that range is waaaaaay easier than detecting things over multiple light years distance.

    • by Baloroth (2370816)

      Well, it depends. We can detect this because it is large enough to emit quite a lot of heat. A smaller rocky body (like an asteroid or Earth-type planet) would be undetectable until it was much, much closer, close enough for us to see the reflected sunlight from it. That's why there is speculation about a fairly large planet somewhere in the Kepler belt even today. It's impossible to see something that isn't emitting light or heat, and isn't close enough to reflect a significant amount from another body (li

    • by osu-neko (2604)

      The good news: It is 100 light years away from Earth so there's no way for it to reach us in time.

      The not so good news: 100 light years is nothing cosmic-distance-wise. If our detection capabilities can let us spot a Super-Jupiter sized object 100 light years away, are there smaller object that are closer, but still pose a threat?

      Given a 100 light year sphere, "trillions" would be an understatement of the number of smaller than Super-Jupiter size objects within it, but large enough to be a threat if they were on the right trajectory.

      We should improve our detection abilities mainly to spot asteroids headed our way in time to prevent a catastrophe.

      That's certainly true, but utterly unrelated to this finding. There ain't jack-shit we could do about a "rogue planet" headed for Earth, other than throw a few awesome end-of-the-world parties.

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        There ain't jack-shit we could do about a "rogue planet" headed for Earth, other than throw a few awesome end-of-the-world parties.

        How dare you besmirch the heroic memory of Bruce Willis by implying that he never saved the Earth from destruction. Goddam it, that man died that we might all be saved!

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      If our detection capabilities can let us spot a Super-Jupiter sized object 100 light years away, are there smaller object that are closer, but still pose a threat?

      Of course there are. Scientists point out new discoveries of these all the time, and show the near misses. There's loads of things we haven't seen yet, which is why you can still get new comets being discovered that have hugely elliptic orbits.

      We should improve our detection abilities mainly to spot asteroids headed our way in time to prevent a

    • by Xtifr (1323)

      are there smaller object that are closer, but still pose a threat?

      Who cares? There are larger objects that are closer but still pose a threat. Actual stars! Dozens of them within a 100 light-year radius. Get down and cower now! :)

  • Cause of ejection? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Of the two possible origins of planets like this, the first would be that it's a star that didn't get enough mass to ignite. This seems to make the most intuitive sense to me.

    The other possibility is that it was somehow ejected form it's parent star. This seems less likely, but then I'm not an astrophysicist. What would it take to eject a planet that large from it's solar system?

    What kind of event would it take to say, eject Jupiter? Would it take a huge rogue Nemesis kind of star, or could something

  • by MetricT (128876) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @02:55PM (#41982909) Homepage

    http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2002/12/21/17846/757 [kuro5hin.org]

    LocalRoger wrote several shorts based in this universe. I though they were great, and am still waiting for a book.

  • Movie was called Final Yamato. From the wikipedia article:

    Final Yamato Main article: Final Yamato Premiering in Japanese theaters on March 19, 1983, Final Yamato reunites the crew one more time to combat the threat of the Denguilu, a militaristic alien civilization that intends to use the water planet, Aquarius, to flood Earth and resettle there (having lost their home planet to a galactic collision). Captain Okita, who was found to be in cryogenic sleep since the first season, returns to command the Yamato and sacrifices himself to stop the Denguili's plan. Susumu and Yuki also get married. The story is set in the year 2203, contradicting earlier assumptions that its predecessor, Yamato III, took place in 2205. Having a running time of 163 minutes, Final Yamato retains the record of being the longest animated film ever made.

  • Great. Just great. Homeless planets orbiting around the neighborhood, pushing a giant shopping cart, talking to themselves, collecting cans, hanging around stoplights washing windows... Shit. There goes the neighborhood.
  • We better all keep our eyes on it, it's already rogue, you never know if it might get all mavericky on us.
  • Sounds like something right out of Space 1999, which was considered very pseudoscience.
  • Mongo! Ming is coming!

  • ...I'm holding out for the Shaman planet.

  • Planet X...... The X stands for the unknown as to where it came from and where it is going. But when we figure that out it won't be Planet X anymore. It will be Planet With a plan.

Swap read error. You lose your mind.

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