They call it "The Accident" but this old planet is hauling like a sports car

Watch this brown dwarf break all the rules

Y-type brown dwarf
NASA/JPL-Caltech

This is really a fan site for weird astronomical happenings

Rogue planets, sure. But I'm into all kinds of kinky astro-science hijinks.

I like to imagine all the weird aliens, cyborgs, and artificial intelligences that might be hanging out there.

Take this weird brown dwarf that they're calling "The Accident".

A brown dwarf is right at the border zone between planets and stars.

They're more massive than Jupiter... which is no small planet... but somewhere around a mass of 70-80 Jupiters brown dwarfs get heavy enough to light up like a star.

They're neat objects. Thirty years ago you never heard of such things. It was all about solar systems like ours.

Now these bizarro exoplanets are everywhere. They might be more common than stars and planets like the ones we know best. Turns out that our orderly sun and planet arrangement might be the unusual situation.

I'm all kinds of interested in brown dwarfs.

And then The Accident shows up, adding more mysterious to this little-understood stellar outcasts.

The official name is WISEA J153429.75-104303.3.

I think I'll stick with The Accident.

It's probably damn old

A study in the Astrophysical Journal Letters posits that The Accident might be 10 billion to 13 billion years old – at least double the median age of other known brown dwarfs. That means it would have formed when our galaxy was much younger and had a different chemical makeup. The paper's authors think The Accident's brightness in certain wavelengths is an indicator that it contains very little methane, meaning it probably formed when the Milky Way was still young and carbon-poor.

NASA JPL

Like I wrote about in the piece on the Fermi paradox, the median age of planets in our galaxy is estimated at 6.4 x 10^9, which is a lot older than our own sun.

This bad boy brown dwarf is pushing up against the boundary of the oldest planets and stars in existence.

For comparison, the cosmologists figure that the Big Bang itself only happened 13.7 billion years ago.

Who knows what it's been through in all that time. It's enough to make a mind stagger.

This joker is trucking

With help from NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes, experts were able to determine that the brown dwarf is located about 50 light-years away from our planet and moving extremely fast at nearly 500,000 miles per hour (800,000 kilometers per hour). This is much faster than other brown dwarfs located about the same distance away from us.

Mysterious Universe

Clearly in a hurry to get somewhere.

It takes a lot of energy to get star-sized objects to haul like this.

Wonder what did that?

But who's driving?

The authors of the study offer up several explanations for The Accident's unruly behavior.

It's the usual sorts of respectable astronomical explanations. Totally natural stuff. Good science.

Boring.

Let's talk about aliens piloting this sucker.

Not for-real. Use your imagination.

What if ET set off cosmic firecrackers to send it off on this joyride?

What if life appeared on a moon and found their whole species on a rollercoaster?

You can cook up all kinds of neat ideas if you put a little thought into it.

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