back to article Fame-hating planets don't need to hang around STARS – boffins

Scientists have claimed that free-floating planets could form from dust clouds deep out in interstellar space – a finding that challenges the belief that planets are only created near stars. Boffins from Japan's Osaka University had previously revealed the existence of hundreds of millions of orphan planets, but the latest …


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  1. jai

    El Reg previously revealed

    That's a bit of a stretch, isn't it? Surely it was Debra Fischer of Yale University in Nature magazine that previous revealed that, as stated in the El Reg article you linked to. All El Reg did was regurgitate the news.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Not only that but...

      It was thought that the planets were flung out of galaxies before embarking upon their lonely interstellar journey.

      Flung out of SOLAR SYSTEMS not GALAXIES. Good look flunging them out of Galaxies.


      Imminent Reg Tombstone predicted AGAIN (because the Marissa Mayer headline is still spelled as Marissa Meyer 8 hours after release)

      1. jonfr

        That happens too

        Sometimes planets are trown out of galaxies too. It might not be as common, but it happens.

      2. Wzrd1

        It's not *that* difficult to throw a planet out of a galaxy. Of course, one has to throw it from a star system first (if one is present).

        Let it go on a flyby of Sag A* and it'll most certainly depart the galaxy.

  2. stuartnz
    Thumb Up

    MIndbogglingly big

    I absolutely LOVED this quote: "“They are very small, each with diameter less than 50 times the distance between the Sun and Neptune" - an object with a *diameter* of up to 200 BILLION kilometres is "very small". As a much, much better Gooner than I once reminded us, "you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's peanuts compared to Space"

    1. Crisp

      Re: MIndbogglingly big

      Larger than a breadbox, but smaller than a solar system.

      It's all relative.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: MIndbogglingly big

        "Larger than a breadbox, but no larger than twenty-five solar systems laid side by side" if you want to be pedantic.

  3. Jon Green

    Don't really understand why this is surprising

    Stars form through gravity-induced collapse of gas clouds, to the point where they are compressed sufficiently to trigger the start a fusion process. So the idea that extrastellar planets could form in a like fashion from dust clouds shouldn't be a major surprise to anyone. Clumping's an inevitability, since any dust cloud won't have completely even density, and the clumping process of anything heavier than fusion gases can surely only lead to protoplanet formation.

    In fact, we're not just talking about rocky planets here. If the gas density in the cloud is too low to clump enough for fusion initiation (about 30-50 Jupiter masses for hydrogen, or 10-15 for deuterium), the same mechanism within gas clouds should result in gas planets.

    1. Graham Marsden
      Thumb Up

      Re: Don't really understand why this is surprising

      That's exactly what I was thinking.

      What is the difference between Jupiter and a Brown Dwarf? It's only the size of the original cloud of matter which would restrict the formation of a sun.

      1. The lone lurker

        Re: Don't really understand why this is surprising

        I believe the current theory is that it is a Brown Dwarf if it is below 13 Jupiter masses and does not orbit a star or stellar remnant.

        Some also argue that it must not have experienced fusion in it's existence to be a true Brown dwarf - Most known brown Dwarf candidates are Lithium rich which cannot be the case if fusion has occurred.

        Surprisingly they tend not to become much bigger than Jupiter as this is the limit of the Coulomb pressure and they are purple.

  4. displacedtexan

    I’m just disappointed you felt you had to tell your readership that Monoceros was the Unicorn. Have more faith in us.

  5. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    200 000 000 wandering planets.

    That's simply huge

    Just astonishing to extra this information from so far away.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      You're missing a brace of zeros, I think. Two hundred billion is the figure quoted in the article.

      That said, it is only a guess. Given that we are still not sure of the percentage of star systems that have planets vs those that don't, I wouldn't put too much stock in that figure.

  6. K. Adams
    Black Helicopters


    Melancholia exists...


    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: So...

      Newlyweds Justine and Michael .... Justine seems unmoved. When she and Michael retreat to their room for the evening, she brushes off his advances and goes walking on the grounds where she has sex with a coworker.


      1. Don Jefe

        Re: So...

        A plot point from an absolutely horrid movie.

      2. K. Adams

        Re: WTF IS THIS SH*T? [was: So...]

        In the movie in question, Melancholia is the name given to a wandering planet that enters our Solar System, then smashes into and destroys the Earth at the end of the film.

        And, yes, I do agree with the other commenter: Melancholia was not a great film. Admittedly very Lars-von-Trier-ish, as Lars von Trier goes, but (IMHO) not one of his best...

  7. Inachu

    If people exand the research to the views expressed by NASA and other researchers they will find that all objects in outer space keep growing and keep getting stronger magnetic fields. The process will never stop and the same thing is happening to earth.

    Earth will get so big one day where its gravitational pull will grab the moon and they will collide.

    Even a rouge planet will after a fwe billion years if lucky will get so heavy it will again after a few billion years might grab its own moons and will condense into being a black hole or turn into a star.

    They say Jupiter or Saturn is ripe to be a star but its gravitational mass is not strong enough but it will just take time then in a few million years perhaps earth will have 2 suns.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      I recommend you stop ordering mind-enhancing goods at "Internet Pharmacies".

    2. stuartnz

      Because of my cerebral palsy my posts are often riddled with typos, so I almost never comment on those of others, but somehow there is something so fitting to this topic and so very Magrathean about the concept of a "rouge planet" that I had to applaud this serendipitous slip. One hopes that the sea there is exactly the right shade of pink, with plenty of fjords to give its continents a nice baroque feel.

  8. Javc

    What will they call all this "dark matter"?

    Just wondering...

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: What will they call all this "dark matter"?

      Schwarzwälder dusting?

      And no, it doesn't make much a dent into the real "dark matter".


      1. Bunbury

        Re: What will they call all this "dark matter"?

        Perhaps not, but surely this mechanism will only operate in regions where there is sufficient material to form stellar nurseries that are bright enough for us to detect and yet also have some scraps left over. Presumably also they have to be at a distance where the ejecting force overcomes the gravity of the cluster. Given we generally need the stars to draw our attention to the proto-planets, perhaps there are other situations where you just get the planets, for example in more diffuse clouds.

        I can't help thinking the Reg hack has missed a gift when the conclusion in the abstract has the words "Some globulettes are in the process of detaching from elephant trunks"

  9. Great Bu

    Blatant false advertising

    I tried to do some research into this discovery and bought a copy of the 'Lonely Planet Guide' - not a single mention of any of these lonely planets.

  10. teebie

    "less than 50 times the distance between the Sun and Neptune"

    That's seems like a weird choice to use in an explaination.

    It translates to less than 0.6AU (i.e less than three fifths of the distance from earth to the sun), which is something I find easier to visualise

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: "less than 50 times the distance between the Sun and Neptune"

      No that is

      d < 50 * 30 AU - halfway to the Oort.

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