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By Andrew Follett
French astronomers are studying a mysterious deep space object they believe could be a large planet or small star.
The object, dubbed CFBDSIR 2149-0403, seems to be an isolated rouge planet or a high-metallic yet remarkably low-mass brown dwarf star. The study examined the object using a spectrograph from the Very Large Telescope (VLT), but wasn’t able to determine what it could be.
“We now reject our initial hypothesis that CFBDSIR 2149-0403 would be a member of the AB Doradus moving group,” Dr. Philippe Delorme, an astronomer at Grenoble Alpes University who led the team studying the object, said in a press statement. “This removes the most robust age constraint we had.”
Knowing the object’s age would allow researchers to determine if it is a rouge planet or small star. If the star is only a relatively young 500 million years old it is likely an isolated planet rouge lanet. If it is older, it would be a highly metallic brown dwarf. The object has changed scientists theoretical understanding of the universe, as its physical parameters are extremely unusual. The object is roughly 130 light years away from Earth.
“[D]etermining that certainly improved our knowledge of the object it also made it more difficult to study, by adding age as a free parameter,” Delorme continued. “CFBDSIR 2149-0403 is an atypical substellar object that is either a ‘free-floating planet’ or a rare high-metallicity brown dwarf. Or a combination of both.”