Edinburgh University astronomers discover sunless world

November 05, 2015 09:51
PSO J318.5-22 is about the same size as Jupiter, and it floats on its own in space. Photo: Internet

We all know that planets revolve around a star, or Sun in the Earth's case.

But there's a sunless world beyond our solar system, or about 75 light years away from our planet, scientists have discovered.

The planet-like object, PSO J318.5-22, is about the same size as Jupiter, and it floats on its own in space, according to BBC News.

Astronomers from Edinburgh University estimate it is only about 20 million years old. The earth is about 4.5 billion years. 

The scientists used a telescope in Chile to show it is covered in multiple layers of thick and thin clouds, which are made of droplets of molten iron.  

Because PSO J318.5-22 doesn't orbit a star, the team is able make accurate measurements of the object without being distracted by brightness.

They estimate that temperatures inside its clouds exceed 800C. The clouds are made up of hot dust and molten iron.

Dr. Beth Biller, of the University of Edinburgh's School of Physics and Astronomy, said: "This discovery shows just how ubiquitous clouds are in planets and planet-like objects.

"We're working on extending this technique to giant planets around young stars, and eventually we hope to detect weather in Earth-like exoplanets that may harbor life."

The findings are published in The Astrophysical Journal.

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