Rogue Planets

by | Jun 14, 2019

Rendition of rogue planet SIMP discovered beyond our solar system

Sometimes former Governors of Alaska go rogue. Other times waves go rogue. This IFOD concerns planets going rogue. Fascinating stuff.

When thinking of planets (which I do on occasion), I think of those in our solar system or I imagine similar ones orbiting distant stars. It turns out that many planets don’t orbit a star. Instead, these “rogue planets” wander through the deep space unattached to any star. It’s interesting to stop and imagine a planet just moving through deep space, far from a star or any other celestial body.

It is very hard to detect an exoplanet orbiting a star, but it is even harder to detect a rogue planet because it is not near any light source. However, scientists have been able to discover some rogue planets, about 20 so far.

It is thought that rogue planets began in a solar system but got too close to a much larger Jupiter-like planet whose gravity hurled the rogue planet into deep space.

Scientists think that rogue planets might be incredibly numerous, maybe as many as 100,000 rogue planets for every planet that’s orbiting a star! Crazy.

A rogue planet likely had a very important role in the development of the moon. As discussed in a prior IFOD, a leading theory is that the moon formed after a rogue planet called Theia struck the Earth. Without the wobble caused by that impact life on Earth would be very different or would not exist at all. Read more about that here.

Source for this IFOD: The Future of Humanity: Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality, and Our Destiny Beyond Earth, by Michio Kaku


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