This item is even weirder than we thought

Planet or star? Researchers still don’t agree on the nature of cfbdsir 2149-0403, the free-flying planetary-mass object discovered in 2012 130 light-years from Earth.

Its name, CFBDSIR J214947.2-040308.9 (cfbdsir 2149-0403 for short), resembles a hieroglyph and its existence still remains a mystery to astronomers who have studied it since its discovery in 2012. this planetary-mass object was considered the closest to the solar system, but what exactly is it? Is it a planet or a brown dwarf? We do not know. An international team of astronomers led by Philippe Delorme from the University of Grenoble has nevertheless taken the bull by the horns in trying to reveal the true nature of the enigmatic object.

After using multiple telescopes across multiple wavelengths, the team got a more accurate estimate of its location. The object was initially thought (with an 87% probability) to be part of the AB Doradus moving group of about thirty stars that move together through space, but after studying its parallax and kinematic position in six different axes, the researchers eliminated this hypothesis. The estimated age of AB Doradus is between 50 and 119 million years old. The object could therefore be much older.

IR photograph of CFBDSIR J214947.2-040308.9 (small blue dot in the center) taken by the La Silla observatory.
Credits: ESO/P. Delorme

Regarding the physics of this object, we lack certainty today. The team has indeed discovered that the body has a high metallicity, which does not allow for the time being to count on any mass. According to the researchers, cfbdsir 2149-0403 could just as well be an isolated planetary object at least 500 million years old with a mass between two and thirteen times that of Jupiter or a brown dwarf at least two or more years old. three billion years old with a mass between two and forty times that of Jupiter. Many questions therefore remain unanswered.

 » We do not know how cfbdsir 2149-0403 formed or how, if it is a wandering planet, how it ended up in its current position, far from any star ”, explain the researchers on  » We do not know if there are thousands of similar objects in the universe or, on the contrary, if we are in the presence of something unique. Cfbdsir 2149-0403 is an atypical substellar object that could be a solitary planet or a rare type of brown dwarf or a combination of the two concludes the researcher. We’ll have to settle for that for now.


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