Astronomers have observed a gassy Jupiter-like exoplanet in the further reaches of our galaxy that appears to be unusually bright.
The findings, discovered by a team from Western University's Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration (CPSX) are published in a paper on arXiv.
Researchers say the exoplanet is giving off higher amounts of infrared light than would typically be expected, and say that the planet is free-floating without any known host stars anywhere in the same neighborhood as it. The nearest star is TW Hydrae in the Hydra constellation, but it’s still rather distant.
Given the name 2MASS J1119-1137, and existing about 95 light years away from Earth, the exoplanet is said to have approximately eight times the mass of Jupiter and falls in between the mass range of a large planet and a brown dwarf star.
The team examining it was able to distinguish it from a reddened star, which are often the case with misidentified ‘bright exoplanets’ due to space dust clouding the light before it reaches Earth and giving it a colored hue.
What’s more is it’s relatively young, at just about 10 million years old. Keep in mind that the universe is 13.772 billion years old, so 10 million years is really an insignificant blip on the time scale despite being a long time from our own point of view.
Although it’s bright, it isn’t the brightest exoplanet ever discovered. It’s reported that the brightest free-standing exoplanet ever found is PSO J318.5?22, which is a little over double the age of 2MASS J1119-1137.
Exoplanet discoveries get astronomers excited because it allows astronomers to study planets outside of our solar system to see patterns in formation that can help us understand the formation of our own solar system. Moreover, it also helps us in our search for life throughout our universe.