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Gassy planet floating alone without purpose through Milky Way, scientists say

The young, gassy planet named PSO J318.5-22 is floating around the Milky Way about 80 light-years from here.

Lonely planetEnlarge
Artist's conception of PSO J318.5-22. (MPIA/V. Ch. Quetz/Courtesy)

We all need a sense of purpose in our lives, a sense of direction - a north star.

That's why it's with a heavy heart that we report that scientists have found a lonely, directionless planet that has no star.

The young, gassy planet named PSO J318.5-22 is floating around the Milky Way about 80 light-years from here.

The planet was created about 12 million years ago - a newborn in planet years.

"We have never before seen an object free-floating in space that looks like this. It has all the characteristics of young planets found around other stars, but it is drifting out there all alone," said team leader Michael Liu of the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii.

More from GlobalPost: Habitable planet discovered circling Tau Ceti, a star close to Earth

"I had often wondered if such solitary objects exist, and now we know they do."

The planet was found by astronomers at the University of Hawaii and it's one of the lowest-mass floating objects ever discovered.

In the past decade, scientists have found about 100 "extrasolar" planets that use other means to move about, like "wobbling" on their axis.

It's still unclear why the planet is all alone but all that gas probably doesn't help much.

The findings were published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/science/131010/gassy-planet-floating-alone-without-purpose-through-milky-way-scientist