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Exoplanet Travel Bureau-PSO J318.5-22

Welcome to the final entry in my series on exoplanets based on NASA's Exoplanet Travel Bureau site. The site itself provides the gorgeous vintage travel posters and guided tours, but I wanted to do a deeper dive into these exoplanets.


PSO J318.5-22 is a free-floating exoplanet or rogue planet, which means it's not bound to any star and drifts through space on its own. It was discovered in 2013 in images taken by the Pan-STARRS PS1 wide-field telescope and is one of few such objects known to date. PSO J318.5-22 is located in the constellation Capricornus and is relatively close to Earth in astronomical terms, at a distance of about 80 light-years.


PSO J318.5-22 is estimated to be relatively young, with an age of around 20 million years. This makes it a relatively "adolescent" object in astronomical terms. It has a mass estimated to be about six to eight times that of Jupiter, classifying it as a "super-Jupiter" or "failed star." PSO J318.5-22 is significantly more massive than most known exoplanets. The exoplanet has a surface temperature of approximately 1,200 degrees Celsius (2,192 degrees Fahrenheit), making it quite hot compared to Earth. Observations of PSO J318.5-22 suggest that it has a cloudy atmosphere, similar to those of some brown dwarfs. The presence of clouds can affect the planet's observable characteristics and make it challenging to study in detail.


One of the most unique aspects of PSO J318.5-22 is that it doesn't orbit a star. It's not gravitationally bound to any parent star which makes it a free-floating planet or rogue planet. Such objects aren't part of a solar system and instead wander through space independently. The exact mechanism by which PSO J318.5-22 became a free-floating planet isn't fully understood. It's thought to have formed either as a planet within a young star system and was subsequently ejected or it could have formed independently through gravitational collapse within a cloud of gas and dust. PSO J318.5-22 is of interest to astronomers and planetary scientists because it provides an opportunity to study the properties and atmospheric conditions of an exoplanet in isolation, without the interference of a nearby star's light. This can help researchers understand the diversity of planetary objects in the universe.


PSO J318.5-22 is an intriguing free-floating planetary-mass object that was discovered independently drifting through space without a host star. Its discovery has contributed to our understanding of planetary formation, and it serves as a unique target for further research in the field of exoplanet and planetary science.



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