Jupiter-sized “planets” free in space, not bound to any star, were detected by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).

One of the interesting elements of the discovery is that these objects appear to move in pairs. Astronomers are currently trying to explain their existence.

The telescope revealed about 40 pairs in a surprisingly detailed new survey of the famous Orion Nebula.

They are nicknamed Jupiter Mass Binary Objects, or “JuMBOs” for short.

One possibility is that these objects grew from regions of the nebula where the density of material was insufficient to form full stars.

Another possibility is that they formed around stars and then to be ejected into interstellar space through various interactions.

“The ejection hypothesis is the most popular at the moment,” said Professor Mark McCaughrean.

James Webb

“According to the laws of physics that govern gases it is not possible to create bodies exclusively of the mass of Jupiter while we know that individual planets can be expelled from star systems. But how do you evict couples together? At this time, we do not have an answer. It’s an answer for theorists,” the European Space Agency’s (Esa) senior science adviser told BBC News.

Professor McCaughrean led the team that conducted the new Orion survey.

By combining JWST’s astonishing resolution and sensitivity, astronomers have added substantially to information already obtained from earlier telescopes, including Webb’s immediate predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope.

The Orion Nebula, also known as M42, eit is the closest major star-forming region to Earth.

James Webb

The constellation of Orion is named after the mythical Greek hunter. The nebula forms part of the hunter’s ‘sword’, which hangs from his ‘belt’.
The new JWST image is a mosaic of 700 views acquired by Webb’s NIRCam instrument over a week of observations.