Fascinated by nature in all its forms, Valerie Varnuska is an avid amateur astronomer. Valerie Vanuska enjoys watching the night sky from her home in the Westbury, NY, region and learning about the stars, planets, and other celestial bodies.
Over the past several years, scientists have discovered several large free-floating planets in the sky. These enormous spheres have much in common with the planet Jupiter, in that they are gaseous bodies not quite reactive enough to be stars. The age and mass of these planets help researchers to determine whether they are orphan planets, which exist without association to particular stars, or whether they are the remnants of failed stars.
An international team of scientists had been studying one such body, 2MASS J2126-8140. A team of Americans first found the body, though the specifics of the data made classifying it as either a planet or a star difficult. Then, after Canadian researchers classified it as a free-floating planet, scientists discovered that 2MASS J2126-8140 did indeed have a parent star.
Planet 2MASS J2126-8140 is orbiting red dwarf star 9486-927-1 about once every 900,000 Earth years at distance of approximately 0.1 light years, the largest orbit ever recorded in history. Researchers are now conducting further investigations to determine how this solar system formed so as to better understand the development of similar gas giants.