TECH

'Rogue' Alien World Discovered Wandering Alone In Space (PHOTOS)

14/11/2012 12:08 GMT | Updated 14/11/2012 12:45 GMT

A "rogue planet" has been discovered floating through the universe without a star.

The lonely world exists in almost total darkness.

Researchers say the alien world is located about 100 light years away, and has the catchy name CFBDSIR2149-0403.

It is said to be between 50-120 million year old, and formed either from a disk of congealing dust and debris like a normal planet, or in a similar way to stars without the mass to ignite.

It is moving in tandem with a group of about 30 stars said to have formed at about the same time. As a result it seems likely it was formed in a similar way, but was not massive enough to turn into a star itself.

Even so it weighs about 4-7 times the mass of Jupiter, and has a surface temperature of around 400C.

Either way, the planet ends up wandering on its own through space.

READ MORE: The full paper announcing the find

They are ridiculously hard to find, because most planets are discovered by the effect their gravitational pull has on their stars light. Without a local star, astronomers have to work harder to note its effects on nearby light sources.

The team involved in CFBDSIR2149-0403's discovery used the Canada France Hawaii Telescope and the Very Large Telescope in Chile.

Co-author Etienne Artigau of the University of Montreal said that only one homeless planet was found in a scan that covered about 1,000 times the area of the Moon in the night sky.