Scientists Discover Nearby Planet without a Star

December 12, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. theorize (v.) [thee-uh-rahyz, theer-ahyz] – to think or suggest ideas which could possibly be true
Example: The researcher theorized that humans could live on other planets.

2. float (v.) [floht] – to move around without a particular direction
Example: The destroyed Chinese satellite floats in space.

3. approximate (v.) [uh-prok-suh-mit; uh-prok-suh-meyt] – to calculate or guess the value of something (size, price, position, etc.)
Example: The students were asked to approximate the distance between the Earth and the Sun.

4. closely (adv.) [kloh-zing]– carefully and thoroughly
Example: Galileo Galilei used a telescope to closely study the stars in the sky.

5. be like looking for a needle in a haystack (idiom) [bee lahyk loo-king for a need-l in a hey-stak] – be very difficult to find
Example: Finding a planet that is the same as our Earth is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Read the text below.

Scientists have long theorized the existence of “rogue” planets, or planets that float freely in outer space, not moving in a circle around any star. The search for such a planet has continued for decades, without much success, until now.

With the help of large telescopes found in Hawaii and Chile, scientists from the University of Montreal (UdeM) in Canada have finally found a rogue planet just 100 light years away from Earth.

The rogue planet was named CFBDSIR2149. Scientists approximate it to be about 50 to 120 million years old, with a temperature of 400 degrees Celsius. It is four to seven times heavier than Jupiter, which is the biggest planet in our solar system.

The planet is near Earth, but it is not affected by any shining star, allowing scientists to study its atmosphere more closely. New information learned about the star-less planet will help scientists better understand planets in general.

The research also leads scientists to theorize that rogue planets are more common than they think.

However, Itienne Artigau, an astrophysicist from UdeM, says finding the rogue planet was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Out of hundreds and millions of nearby stars and planets that the scientists studied, only one rogue planet was found.

Similar floating objects have been noticed before, but scientists could not approximate the objects’ ages well enough to know whether these were planets. Artigau says this is the first time scientists were able to actually observe a rogue planet. Scientists are now aiming to discover more rogue planets farther away.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         What do you think a planet without a star looks like?
·         What other kinds of planets or worlds do you think exist in the universe?

Discussion B

·         Is it important to study other planets aside from our own? Why or why not?
·         What have humans learned from studying the sky and space?


December 12, 2012