News of the WeekAstronomy

Stellar Small Fry, or Runaway Planet?

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Science  03 Sep 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5433, pp. 1471-1472
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5433.1471a

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Dark objects each the size of a dozen Jupiters could lurk in nearby space, a new discovery suggests. In a paper to appear in Astrophysical Journal Letters, astronomers report finding a mysterious object in the constellation Orion, dubbed S Ori 47, which defies easy classification: It may be too light to be a brown dwarf, the smallest kind of star, and could even be a giant planet drifting alone through space. Whatever it is, it could be one of many, as it is visible only because it is still glowing after its fiery birth.