Science and Exploration

The Origin Of Free-Floating Planets

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
March 19, 2023
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The Origin Of Free-Floating Planets
An artist’s impression of a free-floating planet. Using observations and archival data from several of NSF’s NOIRLab’s observatories, together with observations from telescopes around the world and in orbit, astronomers have discovered at least 70 new free-floating planets — planets that wander through space without a parent star — in a nearby region of the Milky Way known as Upper Scorpius OB stellar association. CREDIT: NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/J. da Silva

Free-floating planets (FFPs) are the lightest products of star formation and they carry important information on the initial conditions of the environment in which they were formed.

They were first discovered in the 2000s but still few of them have been identified and confirmed due to observational challenges. This is a review of the last advances in the detection of these objects and the understanding of their origin.

Several studies indicate that the observed fraction of FFPs outnumbers the prediction of turbulent fragmentation and suggest that many were formed in planetary systems that were later abandoned. The JWST will certainly constitute a new step further in the detection and characterisation of FFPs.

To interpret these new observations, precise ages for the nearby star-forming regions in which they were formed will be necessary.

Núria Miret-Roig

Comments: Accepted for publication in Astrophysics and Space Science
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Astrophysics of Galaxies (astro-ph.GA); Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (astro-ph.SR)
Cite as: arXiv:2303.05522 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2303.05522v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Núria Miret-Roig
[v1] Thu, 9 Mar 2023 19:00:01 UTC (324 KB)

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