The nature and origin of free-floating planets (FFPs) are still largely unconstrained because of a lack of large homogeneous samples to enable a statistical analysis of their properties. So far, most FFPs have been discovered using indirect methods; microlensing surveys have proved particularly successful to detect these objects down to a few Earth masses1,2. However, the ephemeral nature of microlensing events prevents any follow-up observations and individual characterization. Several studies have identified FFPs in young stellar clusters3,4 and the Galactic field5 but their samples are small or heterogeneous in age and origin. Here we report the discovery of between 70 and 170 FFPs (depending on the assumed age) in the region encompassing Upper Scorpius and Ophiuchus, the closest young OB association to the Sun. We found an excess of FFPs by a factor of up to seven compared with core-collapse model predictions6,7,8, demonstrating that other formation mechanisms may be at work. We estimate that ejection from planetary systems might have a contribution comparable to that of core collapse in the formation of FFPs. Therefore, ejections due to dynamical instabilities in giant exoplanet systems must be frequent within the first 10 Myr of a system’s life.
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The data that support the findings of this study are available at the Centre de Données astronomiques de Strasbourg at: via anonymous FTP to cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr (220.127.116.11) or via https://cdsarc.unistra.fr/viz-bin/cat/J/other/NatAs/ or from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.
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We thank P. Padoan, M. Bate and V.-M. Pelkonen for insightful comments on the comparison of our observational mass function to simulations, A. Howard, G. Mulders and C. Lovis for input on the occurrence rates and K. Peña Ramírez, A. Scholz and N. Lodieu for input on FFPs in star-forming regions. This research received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement no. 682903, PI H.B.) and from the French State in the framework of the ‘Investments for the future’ Program, IdEx Bordeaux, reference no. ANR-10-IDEX-03-02. H.B. acknowledges financial support from the Canon Foundation in Europe. S.N.R acknowledges support from the CNRS’s PNP programme. This research has been funded by Spanish State Research Agency (AEI) Projects PID2019-107061GB-C61 and MDM-2017-0737 Unidad de Excelencia ‘María de Maeztu’–Centro de Astrobiología (CSIC/INTA). We gratefully acknowledge the support of the NVIDIA Corporation with the donation of one of the Titan Xp GPUs used for this research. This work is based on observations made with the INT operated on the island of La Palma by the Isaac Newton Group in the Spanish Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias. This paper makes use of data obtained from the Isaac Newton Group Archive which is maintained as part of the CASU Astronomical Data Centre at the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge. This work is based on data obtained from the ESO Science Archive Facility and with ESO Telescopes at the La Silla Paranal Observatory under programme IDs 065.I-0003, 065.I-0004, 065.L-0463, 065.O-0298, 071.A-9007(A), 071.A-9011(A), 075.C-0419(A), 075.D-0111(A), 075.D-0662(C), 079.A-9202(A), 079.A-9203(A), 079.A-9208(A), 079.D-0782(A), 079.D-0918(A), 080.A-9210(A), 081.A-9200(A), 081.A-9211(A), 081.A-9212(A), 082.A-9212(A), 082.C-0946(B), 083.A-9021(A), 083.A-9202(A), 083.A-9204(A), 083.C-0446(A), 085.A-9008(A), 085.A-9011(A), 085.C-0690(B), 085.D-0143(A), 086.C-0168(D), 088.C-0434(A), 091.A-0507(A), 091.C-0454(A), 093.A-9028(B), 094.A-9028(C), 096.A-9021(A), 097.A-9020(A), 097.A-9025(C), 164.O-0561(F), 60.A-9120(A), 67.A-0403(A), 68.D-0002(B), 68.D-0265(A), 69.A-0615(B), 69.C-0182(A), 69.C-0260(A), 69.C-0426(C), 69.D-0582(A), 71.C-0580(A), 71.C-0580(B), 71.D-0014(A), 081.A-0673(A), 083.A-0321(A), 085.C-0841(E), 085.C-1009(A), 089.C-0952(B), 089.C-0952(C), 089.C-0952(E), 089.D-0291(A), 091.A-0703(B), 091.C-0543(B), 091.C-0543(C), 091.C-0543(D),091.C-0543(E), 092.C-0548(F), 195.B-0283(A), 60.A-9283(A), 60.A-9800(L), 60.A-9800(H), 083.C-0556(A), 279.C-5062(C), 093.B-0280(B), 095.D-0494(A), 096.C-0730(A), 097.C-0749(A), 098.C-0850(A), 099.C-0474(A), 177.D-3023(G), 60.A-9038(A), 088.D-0675(A), 089.C-0102(A), 089.C-0102(B), 089.C-0102(C), 095.D-0038(A), 097.C-0781(A), 179.A-2010(H), 179.A-2010(J), 179.A-2010(K), 179.A-2010(L), 179.A-2010(N), 198.C-2009(A), 198.C-2009(B), 198.C-2009(F), 198.C-2009(H), 198.C-2009(I), 60.A-9292(A). This research uses services or data provided by the NOIRLab’s Astro Data Archive. The NOIRLab is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), Inc. under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation. The Community Science & Data Center is the place where the Astro Data Archive is being developed and operated the Community Science & Data Center is the place where the Astro Data Archive is being developed and operated. This project used data obtained with the Dark Energy Camera (DECam), which was constructed by the Dark Energy Survey (DES) collaboration. Funding for the DES Projects has been provided by the DOE and NSF (USA), MISE (Spain), STFC (UK), HEFCE (UK), NCSA (UIUC), KICP (U. Chicago), CCAPP (Ohio State), MIFPA (Texas A&M), CNPQ, FAPERJ, FINEP (Brazil), MINECO (Spain), DFG (Germany) and the Collaborating Institutions in the Dark Energy Survey, which are Argonne Lab, UC Santa Cruz, University of Cambridge, CIEMAT-Madrid, University of Chicago, University College London, DES-Brazil Consortium, University of Edinburgh, ETH Zürich, Fermilab, University of Illinois, ICE (IEEC-CSIC), IFAE Barcelona, Lawrence Berkeley Lab, LMU München and the associated Excellence Cluster Universe, University of Michigan, NOIRLab, University of Nottingham, Ohio State University, OzDES Membership Consortium, University of Pennsylvania, University of Portsmouth, SLAC National Lab, Stanford University, University of Sussex, and Texas A&M University. Based on observations at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory atNSF’s NOIRLab (NOIRLab Prop. 2012B-0569 (PI: Allen); 2013A-0214 (PI: Berger); 2013A-0327 (PI: Rest); 2013A-0351 (PI: Dey); 2013A-0723 (PI: Mamajek); 2013A-0737 (PI: Sheppard); 2013A-9999 (PI: Walker); 2013B-0325 (PI: Vivas); 2013B-0531 (PI: Mamajek); 2013B-0536 (PI: Allen); 2014A-0035 (PI: Bouy); 2014A-0239 (PI: Sullivan); 2014A-0306 (PI: Dai); 2014A-0327 (PI: Rest); 2014A-0412 (PI: Rest); 2014A-0479 (PI: Sheppard); 2014A-0480 (PI: Rich); 2014A-0634 (PI: James); 2015A-0151 (PI: Calamida); 2015A-0205 (PI: Mamajek); 2015A-0371 (PI: Rest); 2015A-0397 (PI: Rest); 2015A-0610 (PI: Fuentes); 2015B-0307 (PI: Rest); 2016A-0189 (PI: Rest); 2016A-0327 (PI: Finkbeiner); 2016B-0279 (PI: Finkbeiner); 2016B-0301 (PI: Rest); 2016B-0301 (PI: Zenteno); 2017A-0002 (PI: Bouy); 2017A-0388 (PI: Zenteno); 2017A-0389 (PI: Rest); 2017A-0389 (PI: Tucker); 2017A-0918 (PI: Yip); 2017B-0285 (PI: Rest); 2018A-0059 (PI: Bouy); 2018A-0251 (PI: Finkbeiner); 2019A-0060 (PI: Bouy); 2019A-0101 (PI: Hartigan); 2019A-0305 (PI: Drlica-Wagner); 2019A-0337 (PI: Trilling); 2019B-0323 (PI: Zenteno)), which is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation. Based in part on observations at Kitt Peak National Observatory at NSF’s NOIRLab (NOIRLab Prop. ID 2013A-0399 (PI: Adam); 2014A-0642 (PI: Ronald)), which is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation. The authors are honored to be permitted to conduct astronomical research on Iolkam Du’ag (Kitt Peak), a mountain with particular significance to the Tohono O’odham. Based in part on observations made at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory at NSF’s NOIRLab (NOIRLab Prop. ID 2011A-0368 (PI: Stringfellow); 2010A-0475 (PI: Stringfellow); 2011A-0603 (PI: Tilvi); 2011A-0644 (PI: Catelan); 2010A-0036 (PI: Probst); 2005A-0183 (PI: Ridge); 2006A-0139 (PI: Ridge); 2006B-0021 (PI: Grindlay); 2007A-0180 (PI: Martin); 2007A-0514 (PI: Mardones); 2007A-0599 (PI: Huard); 2008B-0368 (PI: Zuckerman); 2008B-0909 (PI: Vaduvescu); 2010A-0260 (PI: Faherty); 2010A-0326 (PI: Allers); 2010A-0482 (PI: Miller), which is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation. This research used the facilities of the Canadian Astronomy Data Centre operated by the National Research Council of Canada with the support of the Canadian Space Agency. This work is based in part on data collected at Subaru Telescope, which is operated by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and obtained from the SMOKA, which is operated by the Astronomy Data Center, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. The Hyper Suprime-Cam collaboration includes the astronomical communities of Japan and Taiwan and Princeton University. The HSC instrumentation and software were developed by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (Kavli IPMU), the University of Tokyo, the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK), the Academia Sinica Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics in Taiwan (ASIAA) and Princeton University. Funding was contributed by the FIRST program from Japanese Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), the Toray Science Foundation, NAOJ, Kavli IPMU, KEK, ASIAA and Princeton University. Based on observations obtained with MegaPrime/MegaCam, a joint project of CFHT and CEA/DAPNIA, at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) which is operated by the National Research Council (NRC) of Canada, the Institut National des Science de l’Univers of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) of France, and the University of Hawaii.Based on CFH12K observations obtained at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT). Based on observations obtained with WIRCam, a joint project of CFHT, Taiwan, Korea, Canada, France, and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT). This work has made use of data from the European Space Agency (ESA) mission Gaia (https://www.cosmos.esa.int/gaia), processed by the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC, https://www.cosmos.esa.int/web/gaia/dpac/consortium). Funding for DPAC has been provided by national institutions, in particular the institutions participating in the Gaia Multilateral Agreement. This publication makes use of data products from the Two Micron All Sky Survey, which is a joint project of the University of Massachusetts and the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center/California Institute of Technology, funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Science Foundation. This paper makes use of software developed for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. We thank the LSST Project for making their code available as free software at http://dm.lsst.org. The Pan-STARRS1 Surveys (PS1) have been made possible through contributions of the Institute for Astronomy, the University of Hawaii, the Pan-STARRS Project Office, the Max-Planck Society and its participating institutes, the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching, Johns Hopkins University, Durham University, the University of Edinburgh, Queen’s University Belfast, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network Incorporated, the National Central University of Taiwan, the Space Telescope Science Institute, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under grant no. NNX08AR22G issued through the Planetary Science Division of the NASA Science Mission Directorate, the National Science Foundation under grant no. AST-1238877, the University of Maryland, Eotvos Lorand University (ELTE) and the Los Alamos National Laboratory. This work is based on data collected at the Subaru Telescope and retrieved from the HSC data archive system, which is operated by Subaru Telescope and Astronomy Data Center at National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. This work is based on observations obtained with Planck (http://www.esa.int/Planck), an ESA science mission with instruments and contributions directly funded by ESA Member States, NASA and Canada.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Supplementary Figs. 1–5 and Tables 1 and 2.
Results of the membership analysis applied to the Hipparcos catalogue. This table contains the Hipparcos astrometry and photometry as well as the membership probabilities determined in this study with different pin (Methods).
Results of the membership analysis applied to the Gaia DR2 catalogue. This table contains the Gaia DR2 source ID as well as the membership probabilities determined in this study with different pin (Methods).
Results of the membership analysis applied to the DANCe catalogue. This table contains the DANCe astrometry and photometry as well as the membership probabilities determined in this study with different pin (Methods).
Results of the membership analysis applied to the DANCe catalogue. This table contains the DANCe astrometry and photometry as well as the membership probabilities determined in this study with different pin (Methods).
Final list of members, combining the Hipparcos, Gaia DR2 and DANCe analysis. This table contains the final membership probability obtained with each catalogue, the masses and extinctions obtained with Sakam (at 3, 5 and 10 Myr) and the distances obtained with Kalkayotl.
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Miret-Roig, N., Bouy, H., Raymond, S.N. et al. A rich population of free-floating planets in the Upper Scorpius young stellar association. Nat Astron 6, 89–97 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-021-01513-x
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