Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Roaming planets in fiction and reality

When I saw Lars von Trier's Melancholia last year, I was deeply moved my the haunting metaphoric approach to the devastation that is depression. As a scientist, I felt the need to apply suspension of disbelief to appreciate the movie for its artistry and emotional truth, assuming that something like a rogue planet drifting without a star system didn't exist in real life. Boy was I wrong. Scientists have known for some years now that such orphan planets, roaming the universe with no star to orbit around, do exist. And the artist conception of the latest starless planet discovered, CFBDSIR2149, looks eerily like the planet of doom in the movie (illustration of CFBDSIR2149 below).

ESO / L. Calcada / P. Delorme / Nick Risinger ( / R. Saito / VVV Consortium

Check out this little film explaining the latest rogue planet discovery, followed by a trailer for the film Melancholia.