UT researchers find new planetary mass - KXXV Central Texas News Now

UT researchers find new planetary mass

WISEA is thought to be an exceptionally low-mass "brown dwarf," which is a star that lacked enough mass to burn nuclear fuel and glow like a star. (Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech) WISEA is thought to be an exceptionally low-mass "brown dwarf," which is a star that lacked enough mass to burn nuclear fuel and glow like a star. (Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
A sky map taken by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, shows the location of the TW Hydrae family, or association, of stars, which lies about 175 light-years from Earth and is centered in the Hydra constellation. (Source: NASA/JPL-Caltec) A sky map taken by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, shows the location of the TW Hydrae family, or association, of stars, which lies about 175 light-years from Earth and is centered in the Hydra constellation. (Source: NASA/JPL-Caltec)
TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) -

Researchers at the University of Toledo have found a new planetary mass. 

UT undergraduate student James Windsor is a sophomore studying physics. He began the research project his freshman year that lead to the big discovery. 

"We found a brown dwarf named WISEA 1147. It has a huge Jupiter mass. It's a free floating planetary mass object," said Windsor.

He says a brown dwarf is a star that lacks the necessary mass to fuse hydrogen into helium, the process that allows a star to shine. To find the mass they looked through images taken by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). Because brown dwarfs do not give off enough light for a telescope to capture, the scientists used infrared light to see the mass's heat signatures.

Windsor says now that they've discovered it they're learning more. He says it's 100 light years away from Earth and estimated to be roughly five to 10 times the mass of Jupiter.  

"This object is about 10 million years old, which sounds pretty old, but you have to think the sun is about 4.5 billion years old. So, when you compare 10 million to 4.5 billion, you get the idea. So, it's really young. It did not form that long ago," said Adam Schneider, UT. 

According to NASA, the discovery provides new clues in a mystery of galactic proportions regarding possibly billions of lonely worlds that sit quietly in the darkness of space without any companion planets or even a host sun.  

"Right now there is kind of a gray blurry line between what is a planet and what is a star. There is not a clear boundary between the two and this will help clear that up," said Windsor.

The next step is to find out how this mass was formed. The two theory's are that it formed on its own or that it formed like a planet and was kicked out of a planetary system. Hopefully, we don't have to wait ten million years for the answer.  

Read more about the discovery here

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