back to article ROGUE PLANET WITHOUT A SUN spotted in interstellar space

In images, it doesn’t look like much: just a blue dot against the black of space. What’s exciting about this little planet is that it has somehow manage to escape its star. Even getting an image of the object, dubbed CFBDSIR2149, is a pretty good trick: CFBDSIR2149 is only visible in the infrared, and then, only just (it …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They can locate a planet 100 light years away but my GPS still wants to send me the wrong way up a one way street on my morning commute.

    Science.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Engineering!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Apple Maps by any chance?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Looks like someone sneezed on the lens.

    4. Mag R .Thea
      Facepalm

      They can show you the planet, but don't ask for directions...

  2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    I vaugely remember a short story about explorers encountering a sole planet so far away from other stars that the inhabitants were amazed that the universe contained anything more than just them. Wish I could remember what it was called.

    1. Paul 75

      Earth?

    2. LJRich

      H2G2

      @J.G. Harston: Sounds like Krikkit? http://hitchhikers.wikia.com/wiki/Krikkit

      1. Nigel 11

        Re: H2G2

        Not quite as remote, but Iain M Banks' "Against a Dark Background" is set (to very good effect) on a solar system that's been ejected from its galaxy.

      2. Petrea Mitchell
        Boffin

        Or...

        My first thought was Telos, but I believe it was supposed to be Earth-sized.

        1. Mike Richards Silver badge

          Re: Or...

          Anorak primed.

          I think you meant Mondas from 'The Tenth Planet' in which William Hartnell had a lie down and woke up as Patrick Troughton.

          1. Petrea Mitchell
            Coat

            Re: Or...

            "I think you meant Mondas from 'The Tenth Planet' [...]"

            Aaargh, yes. Right story, wrong Cyber-planet. In my defense, I'm not old enough to have seen the broadcast and it's been decades since I read the novelization.

            Getting my coat because clearly my anorak privileges will be suspended.

    3. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
      Go

      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.....

    4. dssf

      "Welllll, Jjjohn..."

      Cdr JK: VIKtor, what ISS it?

      Prof. B: Wellll, Jjjjohn.. I am not sure....

    5. Thorne
      Angel

      "I vaugely remember a short story about explorers encountering a sole planet so far away from other stars that the inhabitants were amazed that the universe contained anything more than just them. Wish I could remember what it was called."

      Well it wasn't the Bible then....

  3. Anomalous Cowshed

    Very strange stuff

    (a) How can something without a star be a planet

    and

    (b) How can such a 'planet' have an atmosphere

    Think about it.

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Very strange stuff

      'Planet' <Noun> (gk) Wanderer

      'Atmosphere' <Noun> Gaseous envelope held onto surface of Planet (q.v) by Gravity.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Very strange stuff

      (a) The planet originally developed around the star, but was torn loose due to gravitational interactions.

      and

      (b) It's a planet, why can't it have an atmosphere? If you mean why has it's atmosphere not frozen solid, well Jupiter emits more energy than it absorbs from the Sun due to gravitational contraction (it shrinks about 1 cm in radius per century).

      1. Nigel 11

        Re: Very strange stuff

        There's also a grey zone between a wandering gas giant planet and a brown dwarf star. Jupiter emits more energy than it receives from Sol, because something (probably a very small amount of hydrogen fusion) is going on in its core.

        "Torn loose by gravitational interactions" implies some sort of catastrophic interaction such as another star passing close to a solar system. That's not necessary. Any solar system with more than two bodies is stable only in a statistical sense. A 3,4, ... N body gravitationally bound system is chaotic, and it is always possible that what appears to be a stable orbit will in fact end up with one of the planets ceasing to be gravitationally bound to its sun.

        You'll be unsurprised to know that the future of the solar system has been carefully modelled. Earth is safe for the next 200M years or so. Beyond that, we can't say. The observations aren't good enough to distinguish longer-term stability from its opposite. Such is the nature of a chaotic system. An unmeasurably small difference today may be the difference between earth remaining in orbit or not, 300M years hence. "Past performance may not be a reliable guide to future performance"!

        Back to mini brown dwarfs or large wandering planets, it's possible that these might be the last habitable places after all the universe's stars have burned themselves out. Has anyone ever written a far-future SF story set on or within one?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Very strange stuff

          "because something (probably a very small amount of hydrogen fusion) is going on in its core."

          Oh dear, Mars is apparently experiencing climate change. It could be dangerous if Jupiter has the same...

          1. Anomalous Cowshed

            Re: Very strange stuff

            Wow commentards! A planet with still some hydrogen fusion in its core, and an atmosphere, and no star in sight. And gravitation causing high temperatures too. I like it. Keep the downvotes coming!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Very strange stuff

      "a) How can something without a star be a planet"

      If we don't keep up repayments on the Sun we'll find out.

    4. James Micallef Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Very strange stuff

      (a) is just a naming convention. Doesn't fit neatly into any other category, exo-planet will do for the moment.

      (b) atmsophere is dependent on the planet's own gravity and composition, only slightly affected by suns and neighbouring planets

      What's really curious for me is the temperature of 430C - it's out in deep space and can't be absorbing heat from anywhere else, in fact even considering a thick pea-soup atmosphere it must be losing heat to it's surroundings, and must have been doing so for a loooooong time. So is it possible that it's producing energy through very low-level fusion only happening deep in the core?

      1. Gob Smacked
        Meh

        Re: Very strange stuff

        "So is it possible that it's producing energy through very low-level fusion only happening deep in the core?"

        Not necessary. It's even bigger than Jupiter and both Jupiter and Saturn produce more heat than they receive. The steady compression of all that mass + slow natural radioactive decay produce more than enough heat to reach a few hundred degrees.

        1. boltar Silver badge
          Alien

          Re: Very strange stuff

          "Not necessary. It's even bigger than Jupiter and both Jupiter and Saturn produce more heat than they receive."

          True, but even so they're still bloody cold.

          "The steady compression of all that mass + slow natural radioactive decay produce more than enough heat to reach a few hundred degrees."

          There would have to be an unfeasible amount of radioactivity to heat a gass giant planet 7 times the mass of jupiter up to 430C given that the majority of its mass (if it is a gas giant) won't be made of anything radioactive. More than likely it is just gravitation compression as you said + residue heat from its formation.

          1. James Micallef Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Very strange stuff

            According to NASA website, Jupiter's surface temperature is -145C. Core temperature is unknown but "may be about" 24,000 C. Also found this nugget on universetoday: "Jupiter would have to add about 80 times its current mass in order to become massive enough to ignite fusion"

            Since this planet is 7 times Jupiter's mass likely no fusion, just compression, and if surface temp is around 400C, core most be rather hot enough to warrant a few beers

          2. Britt Johnston
            Facepalm

            Re: Very strange stuff, that heat

            The heat is a side-effect of the Blish drives, plus the air conditioners...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Very strange stuff

        430°C might seem hot at first without a star to warm it, but please remember that it is still a very young planet: somewhere between 50 million and 120 million years old. It hasn't had much time to cool down from when it was formed.

      3. Mike Richards Silver badge

        Re: Very strange stuff

        It's very young so its going to be generating a lot of internal heat as it compacts under gravity and then differentiates according to density. And we're talking about an enormous amount of energy - the Earth obtained something like 2.5 * 10^32J from compression and another 1 * 10^31J during the formation of the Core.

    5. Katie Saucey
      Alien

      Re: Very strange stuff

      Easy, it's the Pierson's Puppeteers homeworld.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Too obvious?

    "It's too big to be a space station." "I have a bad feeling about this."

    1. Thomas 4
      Unhappy

      Re: Too obvious?

      The article misses some important details about the planet that really need answering:

      a) Does this planet have horns?

      b) Is it largely made of metal?

      c) Is it voiced by Orson Wells?

      Deeply concerned minds wish to know.

      1. Mike Richards Silver badge

        Re: Too obvious?

        And another important question.

        d) Is it coming our way?

    2. Lars Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Too obvious?

      Perhaps It's a moon escaped from a planet.

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Perhaps...

        That's no Moon...

        1. Mooseman Bronze badge

          Re:that's no moon...

          You beat me to it, dammit. It's clearly the Death Star.

        2. Rob Dobs
          Holmes

          Awesome,.... first thing I thought of when I read the headline!!!

          Knew by the comments someone had posted this already.... obviously its a death star, and will be here in 2 years - moving at Warp speed (50 x speed of light)

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Elmer Phud Silver badge

      Re: Too obvious?

      In that case if it isn't Moonbase Alpha it's the whole moon

  5. Turtle

    87%?

    "The astronomers believe there’s an 87 percent chance that CFBDSIR2149 is associated with the AB Doradus Moving Group, based on a comparison of images taken by the WIRCam instrument at CFH and the ESO’s SOFI camera."

    Fallacy of misplaced precision?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: 87%?

      For all we know, they quantize their values to 0,29,58,87 and 100 %

  6. nichomach
    Alien

    Oh crap...

    it's the Vegan Orbital Fort...

    1. frank ly Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Oh crap...

      Thanks for the warning. I'm going out now, to buy a bigger freezer and begin stockpiling beefburgers.

  7. wowfood
    Mushroom

    What they failed to mention

    Is it's headed straight for earth and should arrive within the next millennium..

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: What they failed to mention

      That means it's traveling at > 0.1c.

      Maybe we should ask xkcd about the effect the earth's impact on this planet has at those speeds.

  8. Paul 75

    Cue Space 1999 theme tune!

    1. Spoonsinger
      Alien

      Space 1999.....

      Sadly a missed opportunity for an update at the appropriate time.

      (i.e. You could of had the big explosion in the first episode creating a big sucky worm hole type thing. The worm hole obviously slurps the moon to a random piece of space for adventures to occur and disappears. But then ,because it's a weird worm hole, it reappears, (maybe 50 minutes TV time later), and continues it's suckage. Gives the writers quite a lot of scope for random encounters, political infighting, and killing off of expensive characters/actors when needs must. )

    2. dssf

      cue.... the breakaway tracks from when

      The Enterprise Bridge view screen fills and when the 1701 is groaning trying to break away.

      Of course, what would all that be without the pointed eyebrows and tha command "DEEFLEKTOR SHEELDS -- FULLLL INTENSITEEEE!" :-)

      "DEFLEKTORS SAY THERE'S SOMETHING THERRR --- SENSORS SAY THERE'S NOTTT??? READINGS GO OFFFF MY SCAYUL!" (WNMHGB)

  9. Alistair Silver badge
    Alien

    My brain is mush this morning --

    But my first thought on reading this was .. Oh look, the Puppeteers are coming. I'm just wondering if I'm remembering that correctly. I think not.

    BINGO! - we Need a "coffee" Icon.!

    1. Steve the Cynic Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: My brain is mush this morning --

      You are only partially wrong. The error is that the Puppeteers have five worlds in a "Kemplerer Rosette" (I believe that was what Niven called it. He was wrong anyway.) rather than just one.

      1. Alistair Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: My brain is mush this morning --

        Why, thank you for nudging my recollection sir. In reply a wee dram for later in the day.

        (Found my coffee).

    2. Spoonsinger
      Happy

      Re: Puppeteers....

      I'm quite lucky in certain things. (Doesn't bode well for people I know though).

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thats no planet....

    at least not a natural one, maybe Forerunner, they seem to like their massive artificial habitats

  11. VinceH Silver badge

    Optional

    Are they sure it's a planet? It could be a moon. Is there a moonbase on it? Is there any indication of an explosion on the other side that might have knocked it out of orbit?

  12. 123465789
    WTF?

    Planet?

    Isn't a planet - by definition - something big enough to become sphere-shaped and orbiting a star? How than can anything NOT orbiting a star be called a planet?

    1. Nigel 11
      Boffin

      Re: Planet?

      It's just a matter of definitions. It might avoid a lot of arguments if it were done by mass, with a planet being a body more massive than an asteroid and less massive than a brown dwarf star, and with precise numbers setting the boundaries.

      Note, any object gravitationally bound to our galaxy is orbiting at least one star. If it's wandering in interstellar space, it may be orbiting many tens or even hundreds of millions of them.

    2. mark1978

      Re: Planet?

      It most likely formed around a star and was ejected into space. If the earth was to leave the orbit of the sun and travel off into interstellar space - it wouldn't just stop being a planet.

      1. Tinker Tailor Soldier
        Stop

        Re: Planet? - By the current definition, not?

        It can only be a planet if its roughly spherical (big enough to collapse to a sphere under its own gravity) AND its significant enough of a mass in its own orbit to have (largely) cleared it of debris. (Hence Pluto and Ceres don't count).

        So, an exoplanet wouldn't actually be a planet by this definition. Perhaps they'll have to come up with a formal definition of exoplanet vs. dwarf planet. The good news is no kiddies are going to have to memorize exoplanets so no-one much will have to car or notice.

      2. Michael Dunn
        Unhappy

        Re: Planet?

        "If the earth was to leave the orbit of the sun and travel off into interstellar space - it wouldn't just stop being a planet." No, but we might stop being "planet dwellers"!

    3. Graham Dawson

      Re: Planet?

      Given "planet" descends from the greek for "wanderer", it's more accurately a planet than anything in our solar system.

  13. TomChaton
    Coat

    That's

    no moon...

    1. MrXavia
      Thumb Up

      Re: That's

      It's a space station!

      Seriously could be though! if you want a generation ship, what better than a planet!

      1. wowfood

        Re: That's

        or it could be Meteor being ridden by Jenova to earth.

        1. Elmer Phud Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: That's

          I mis-read that as 'Jehova'

  14. Curtis

    John Ringo

    I'm voting it's a Dreen Brainship.

  15. jcrb
    Terminator

    Moon Base Alpha come back in time through a worm hole in space.........

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Happy

      Geez-

      It's put on a bit of mass...

    2. Minophis
      Happy

      @jcrb

      'Moon Base Alpha come back in time through a worm hole in space.........'

      Back in time from the year 1999?

      You might want to rethink that....

  16. ukgnome Silver badge

    Is it too early to welcome our new robot leaders?

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Happy

      Yes.

      Try again on Tuesday. About 2ish.

  17. JeffyPooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Blue Dwarf

    It's a new class of object that I hereby name "Blue Dwarf".

    Hopefully 'blue dwarf' isn't the name of a pr0n subgenre.

    1. Darryl

      Re: Blue Dwarf

      How about 'Smurf' then?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Blue Dwarf

      Rule 34... no exceptions.

  18. CmdrX3
    Happy

    "JUST a hundred light years away"

    That's OK then, should get there by tea-time. I mean it's JUST 588 trillion miles away (almost).

  19. Pete the not so great
    Trollface

    prolly just a speck of dust on the lens

    oooh

  20. This post has been deleted by its author

  21. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Notice how circumlocutious everyone has to be since the Pluto-not-a-planet-anymore triumph?

    How much wear and tear would have been saved on a dozen thesauruses if they could have just said "planet" instead of obsessing over the fact it isn't in a discernible orbit and therefore cannot clear one out?

    Well done, "scientists". Another leap forward.

    1. Richard Scratcher
      Megaphone

      Re: Bah!

      I heard you the first time.

      1. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        Hmm, not sure what happened there. Sorry.

        First one deleted, which neatly removes one thumb down. Bwa-ha-ha etc. I invite the incensed party to re-disapprove of my sentiment.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Three theories:

    1: Moonbase Alpha

    2: The Founders' homeworld's got a bit lost

    3: Earth, the landfill planet, has encountered a wibbly time thingy on its journey from the solar system and come back to now.

    One eCookie to the first person to get all references.

  23. BOFH Jr.

    Small Moon

    Maybe it's actually a Death Star.

    LUKE: Look at him. He's headed for that small moon.

    HAN: I think I can get him before he gets there...he's almost in

    range.

    BEN: That's no moon! It's a space station.

    HAN: It's too big to be a space station.

  24. LordHighFixer
    Alien

    to quote

    "for the world is hollow, and I have touched the sky"....

  25. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Alien

    Is the planet.....

    Broadcasting whale song? Someone get Shatner and Nimoy to the bridge!!

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: Is the planet.....

      or Ellen DeGeneres.

  26. Rampant Spaniel

    Are they sure it's hydrogen and not blue string pudding?

  27. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    could be a small Dyson Sphere

    now THAT would be a groovy discovery.

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: could be a small Dyson Sphere

      Aha - A Dyson Ball. In a vacuum...

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        Re: could be a small Dyson Sphere

        I thought the same :-) Thankfully Startrek, larry Niven (and to a lesser extent university) helped out.

        A full, solid, dyson sphere is 'considered' impossible by the current beard and elbow patch brigade. Largely due to the amount of building material required given a nominal 1 au radius. However, given that four hundred years ago a cig lighter would have earned you a swift burning for withcraft, who knows what could be possible? I would suggest considering the amount of energy required to fabricate a sphere (as opposed to a net or swarm) by converting energy to matter plus propulsion requirements vs the amount of energy harvested would be the best way to work out if an advanced race would do it. Just because we cannot do it doesn't mean it cannot be done. Seriously, in 1000 years whos to say we cannot build a giant centre parcs around sol? One big discovery could be all it takes. Perhaps if the beards spent a little less time ranting at each other about exactly what is a planet and a little more time on original thought we might get there a little quicker!

  28. MrEntropy
    Black Helicopters

    Dyson Sphere

    If it's only visible in infrared, couldn't it be a roving Dyson sphere? The methane could be from all the inhabitants on the inside... venting their gasses.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    shhh !

    if we all keep quiet maybe they'll go past without noticing we're here

  30. dssf

    FFS...

    First Federation Starship... FESARIOUS???? Teanya, anyone?

    "SIR, We've got PHASER weapons! I vote we BLASSSST it..."

    "I'll keep that in mind, Mr. Bailey -- when this becomes a democracy."

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's Kolob

    They're headed this way to pick up Mitt, now that his work on Earth has been completed.

  32. C. P. Cosgrove

    A young planet ?

    I am a great admirer of James Blish's 'Cities in Flight' series - they sit on a shelf in my living room - but isn't the age estimate for this planet, as quoted, a bit odd ?

    50 to 120 million years seems very young for any planet in this neck of the galaxy.

    Chris Cosgrove

  33. This post has been deleted by its author

  34. Winkypop Silver badge
    Joke

    A roving planet, by golly

    I'll bet the planning permission forms are hell to fill in.

  35. Winters

    Bloody rogue planets, swanning about, doing what they like. There is order to the universe, you little tike!

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quick! Get the tin foil hats on!

    With 21/12/12 just around the corner and a strange wandering planet just being discovered and not a single mention of Niburu. Comentards, I'm disapointed! :-)

    1. pepper

      Re: Quick! Get the tin foil hats on!

      I think the nutters realize that this planet would need to do some serious speeding up to get here in time.

    2. Mag R .Thea
      Trollface

      Re: Quick! Get the tin foil hats on!

      At last! I was beginning to lose hope in Fringe Humanity! Now, if scientists would just look a little closer, they'll find the HAARP array and chemtrails in the shape of a smiley face... I believe we should begin colonisation immediately!

  37. kryptonaut

    AB Doradus Moving Group

    I think I have one of their albums on vinyl.

  38. TRT Silver badge

    Well, it's going to give the astrologers a new toy to play with at least...

    "I was born, under a wand'rin' planet...."

  39. Falanx
    Alien

    Well, it all began about nine million years ago...

    Cybertron?

    Wishful thinking?

    1. Joefish
      Facepalm

      Re: Well, it all began about nine million years ago...

      Cybertron? Nah, that's Unicron. Get to the ships!

      As for not being a planet, 'planet' comes from 'planetes', which means wanderer. The nomenclature pre-dates the entire concept of orbiting a star.

  40. Jason 5

    Could it possibly be...

    Maybe the Magratheans decided to take their world for a stroll among the cosmos looking for new clients.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Go

      Re: Could it possibly be...

      Or it's a client planet, with surface shipping delivery instead of via hyperspace.

  41. Stoneshop Silver badge
    Go

    Very Large Telescope

    So, apparently they had a Large Telescope before this one. What will be next?

    Even Larger Telescope?

    Overwhelmingly Huge Telescope?

    Effing Humongous Telescope?

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