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Not a planet?

11:42am, June 13, 2006

Two years ago, European astronomers found what they hailed as the first image of an extrasolar planet. New observations of the object add to evidence that it's not a planet after all.

The body, about eight times as heavy as Jupiter, resides next to a failed star, a brown dwarf dubbed 2M1207 (SN: 5/7/05, p. 291: Available to subscribers at Planetary Picture? Criteria for planethood cloud object's identity). The brown dwarf is only about three times as heavy as its companion.

The European group suggested that the planetary-mass object coalesced from the outer reaches of a gas-and-dust disk surrounding the brown dwarf. But other astronomers argued that a massive planet probably couldn't have formed in the sparse outer part of the disk.

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