Orphan Planet May Have Estranged Parent Star
An orphan planet free-floating in space more than 100 light-years from Earth may have a parent star after all, though the relationship could hardly be considered close.
New research shows the planet, a massive world 11 to 15 times bigger than Jupiter, may be orbiting its host star about 7,000 times farther away than Earth circles the sun.
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At this distance, light from the star would take a month to reach the planet, research published Monday in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society shows.
"This is the widest planet system found so far," astronomer Niall Deacon, with England's University of Hertfordshire, said in a statement.
Both the planet, known as 2MASS J2126 and its prospective parent star, TYC 9486-927-1, were discovered more than eight years ago, but the relationship between the two remained unknown.
Deacon and colleagues found that despite being more than 621 billion miles, or 1 trillion kilometers, apart the two objects are moving together in space.