Artist’s impression of CFBDSIR2149, the rogue planet wandering through space roughly 100 light years from our solar system (Image: ESO/L. Calçada/P. Delorme/Nick Risinger (skysurvey.org)/R. Saito/VVV Consortium)
Image captured by the SOFI instrument on ESO’s New Technology Telescope at the La Silla Observatory shows the free-floating planet CFBDSIR2149 in infrared light (Image: ESO/P. Delorme)
While the Kepler spacecraft’s mission to discover Earth-like planets orbiting other stars continues to produce results, astronomers have found what is likely to be a planet that is not gravitationally bound to any star. The rogue planet, called CFBDSIR2149, is around 100 light years from our solar system, making it the closest free-floating planetary mass yet discovered. Its relative proximity, coupled with the lack of a bright star in its vicinity, has allowed researchers to study its atmosphere in great detail, which should help provide a better understanding of exoplanets that do orbit stars.
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