Direct imaging discovery of a 12 – 14 Jupiter mass circumbinary object

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The new object is 2MASS J01033563-5515561ABb, which orbits a pair of young M dwarfs at a projected separation of 84 AU. Both a common proper motion and Keplerian orbital motion have been verified. The object is of spectral type L and has a mass at the deuterium-burning limit, which is often used as an ad-hoc definition of the mass boundary which separates brown dwarfs from planets. The system is likely a member of the Tucana-Horologium association, with an age of 30 Myr. The existence of the object is a strong challenge for theories of the planet formation process. From the paper (internal references omitted):

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A planetary formation scenario by core-accretion can very probably be excluded for several reasons. First, the separation is too large for a formation in situ. Second, the companion has 3.6% of the mass of its host system, which is of the order of magnitude of the maximum total mass of the proto- planetary disc from which core-accretion planets are formed. Finally, such a 12-14 M Jup companion would be a very rare occurence, according to [recent estimates of the] the core-accretion planetary mass function.

Update: I have included the imaging courtesy New Scientist/ESO. The paper is P. Delorme et al., “Direct imaging discovery of 12-14 Jupiter mass object orbiting a young binary system of very low-mass stars”, and is accepted to A&A letters. It appears today at arXiv.org (pdf).

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