Something Beautiful: The Lonely Planet

An artist's conception of the planet PSO J318.5-22 in the constellation of Capricornus. Photo: AFP PHOTO / MPIA / V. Ch. Quetz

An artist’s conception of the planet PSO J318.5-22 in the constellation of Capricornus. Photo: AFP PHOTO / MPIA / V. Ch. Quetz

Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about PSO J318.5-22.

Although PSO J318.5-22 sounds like a library call number, it’s actually a planet. A giant planet (six times more massive than Jupiter). A baby planet (12 million years old, which is pretty much fresh from the universe womb for a planet).

And also, it’s a lonely planet (according to pretty much every article written about it). PSO J318.5-22 is the first planet we’ve discovered that isn’t orbiting a star. “It is drifting out there all alone,” Research team leader Dr. Michael Liu says. “‘I often wondered if such solitary objects exist, and now we know they do.”

Naturally, my poet-brain has grown rather attached to the beautiful oddball orphan planet.

I’ve been attempting (with only mild success) to write a poem a day in November. Since this is the part when I typically lose steam, I’ve decided to spend the remaining eleven days of the month writing epistolary poems to PSO J318.5-22. Because lonely planets need love too.

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