Most Bizarre Space Discoveries So Far This Year

Liz Burlingame
Published: October 24, 2013

Lonely Planet

In 1888, renowned astronomer Simon Newcomb announced that man had approached "… the limit of all we can know about astronomy." This infamous prediction came years before Hubble provided snapshots of the deep universe and scientists sent a rover to Mars.

From our decades of discoveries, one thing we can definitely glean is that space is a strange place, and it keeps getting stranger. Here's a look at some of the more unusual discoveries of 2013, so far — from gum ball-colored planets to water worlds.

Gas Giant World With No Sun

Known by its code name, PSO J318.5-22, it was discovered about 80 light years away from Earth by scientists analyzing data from the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii.

Earlier this month, an international team of astronomers discovered a lonely planet floating through space without a companion star. The team said it's the first planet to be found without a sun.

The cold, dark planet is about six times the mass of Jupiter – a “gas giant” planet – and is estimated to have formed just 12 million years ago, making it only an infant in astronomical terms.

"We have never before seen an object free-floating in space that looks like this," researcher Michael Liu, of the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii at Manoa told "It has all the characteristics of young planets found around other stars, but it is drifting out there all alone. I have often wondered if such solitary objects exist, and now we know they do."

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