UFO, planet or space station? James Webb Telescope discovers objects as big as Jupiter, aimlessly floating in space

Produced by: Tarun Mishra
Designed by: Manoj Kumar

In a momentous revelation, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), hailed as humanity’s most sophisticated telescope, has unveiled an extraordinary cosmic phenomenon— Jupiter Mass Binary Objects (JuMBOs), free-floating entities of Jupiter-like size found adrift in the cosmos, unattached to any parent star. This groundbreaking discovery has ignited fervent intrigue within the astronomical community.

Jupiter Mass Binary Objects (JuMBOs) in space

The JWST’s remarkable discovery entails the identification of approximately 40 pairs of JuMBOs during its comprehensive survey of the Orion Nebula. These peculiar entities present an astronomical paradox, as they are neither substantial enough to be classified as stars nor adhere to the conventional planetary definition due to their lack of orbital association with any host star.

Pioneering JWST revelation

Astronomers are now grappling with the enigma surrounding JuMBOs and endeavouring to elucidate their origins and existence. The European Space Agency (ESA) has proposed two plausible theories to explain the genesis of these massive celestial objects.

Two origin theories

One theory posits that ¸ could have emerged from regions within the Orion Nebula where the density of material was inadequate to foster the formation of fully-fledged stars.

Insufficiency of material

The second hypothesis suggests that JuMBOs may have initially developed as planets within stellar systems but subsequently experienced expulsion due to gravitational interactions with other celestial bodies.

Gravitational interactions

Currently, the prevailing hypothesis among astronomers is the ejection theory, which posits that these objects were ejected from their original star systems. This hypothesis aligns with established gas physics principles, as it deems the independent formation of Jupiter-sized entities highly improbable.

Prevalence of ejection hypothesis

The central puzzle that perplexes astronomers pertains to the simultaneous expulsion of pairs of JuMBOs from star systems, a phenomenon yet to be satisfactorily explained by current theories.

A puzzle for astronomers

These remarkable discoveries unfolded within the Orion Nebula, a celestial crucible known as a «stellar nursery», where numerous nascent planetary systems have been observed. This revelation challenges existing models of planetary formation and evolution, hinting at the existence of celestial phenomena beyond our current astronomical understanding.

Insights from the Orion

Dr Ed Bloomer, an esteemed astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, underscores the transformative impact of this discovery within the Orion Nebula. It prompts a reevaluation of established models and hints at the potential existence of celestial phenomena that defy current explanations.

Dr Ed Bloomer’s perspective

The James Webb Space Telescope, launched in 2021 and commencing its data-gathering mission in 2022, has played a pivotal role in revolutionising our understanding of the early universe. Its observations have unveiled ancient galaxies, black holes, and an array of unprecedented astronomical data.

JWST’s remarkable contribution

With nearly 100 times the observational power of the Hubble telescope, the JWST continues to unravel the mysteries of the cosmos and redefine our perception of the universe’s intricacies.

James Webb telescope

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