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Astronomers endeavor to unravel mystery of free-floating Jupiter-Sized 'Planets'

It has been stated that astronomers used NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to identify 500 or so previously unseen spots in the Orion Nebula in October 2023.

Edited By: Saumya Nigam @snigam04 New Delhi Published on: January 01, 2024 19:07 IST
jupiter, nasA
Image Source : NASA Free-floating Jupiter-Sized 'Planets'

NASA astronomers have reportedly discovered a free-floating Jupiter-sized ‘planets’ in the space. The planets have been found in space and orbiting only each other, and have further baffled astronomers, forcing them to rethink the theories of planet and star formation. It has been stated that astronomers used NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to identify 500 or so previously unseen spots in the Orion Nebula in October 2023.

The telescope further observed around 40 pairs in a detailed new survey of the famous Orion Nebula. It further found out that dozens of the worlds appear to be in pairs orbiting each other. Now, as per the article in Wired which was originally published in Quanta Magazine, scientists have attempted to explain the so-called Jupiter Mass Binary Objects (JUMBOs) -- gas giant pairs, free-floating and orbiting only each other.

As per the scientists, these objects in space are too light to have formed alone and are unexpectedly numerous.

What is the main reason for planet formation?

As per the reports, one of the possibilities is planet formation is said to be the “tightly-spaced orbits” which are being dragged out of their solar system by a passing star.

Still, “we’re missing something and we don’t know what it is,” said Nienke van der Marel, a researcher who studies planet formation at Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands.

The JUMBOs have caught experts in both star and planet formation flat-footed.

Matthew Bate, an astrophysicist at the University of Exeter specialising in star formation said, “This has not been predicted at all. There are no existing theories where we would have expected these wide, free-floating planetary objects in these numbers.”

At least some of the JUMBOs may be probably mirages.

The report further says, “The deeper an object lies in a dusty environment (and the Orion nebula is extremely dusty), the tougher it is to distinguish it from a distant, more massive star behind the nebula, which would be expected to have a partner.”

“One needs to be a bit cautious at the moment,” said Nuria Miret Roig of the University of Vienna.

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Inputs from IANS

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