Strange Earth-sized rogue planet found floating in Milky Way


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Scientists have discovered another rogue planet, but this one leaves even experts perplexed: It is slightly smaller than Earth and floats through the Milky Way.

The potential exoplanet likely has a mass similar to that of Mars, researchers said in the study published on the arXiv.org repository. Although rogue planets (those without stars) have been discovered before, they are extremely difficult to spot.

“Our discovery demonstrates that low-mass floating planets can be detected and characterized using ground-based telescopes,” said study co-author Professor Andrzej Udalski, principal investigator of the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment project. (OGLE). A declaration.

Artist’s impression of a gravitational microlens event by a free-floating planet. Credit: Jan Skowron / Astronomical Observatory, University of Warsaw

A MASSIVE LUMINOUS ‘ROGUE’ PLANET SPOTTED ‘DRIFT’ INTO SPACE

Over 4,000 exoplanets have been discovered by NASA in total, most using the transit method. About 50 of these were considered potentially habitable as of September 2018, as they are the right size and orbit for their star to support surface water and, at least theoretically, to support life.

Transit observations allow astronomers to look at a star and see it sink because another object has crossed in front of it. This type of observation will be extended when NASA launches its James Webb Space Telescope in October 2021. The telescope has been delayed in part due to the coronavirus pandemic, Fox News previously reported.

Another technique, used by researchers in the latest discovery, is the “gravitational microlens,” which allows experts to watch objects in the foreground pass in front of objects in the background. The object in the foreground acts like a lens, bending and magnifying the light to reveal certain features of the object in the background.

The event, known as Google-2016-BLG-1928, is the shortest microlens event ever, at just 42 minutes.

“When we first spotted this event, it was clear that it must have been caused by an extremely small object,” added study co-author Dr Radoslaw Poleski.

“The chances of observing the microlens are extremely slim because three objects – the source, the objective and the observer – must be almost perfectly aligned,” added lead author of the study, Przemek Mroz. “If we were to observe only one source star, we would have to wait almost a million years for the source to be microlensed.”

LAKE GALAXY WAY COULD HAVE “OCEANIC WORLDS” EVERYWHERE, SAYS NASA

In August, a separate group of researchers suggested there might be more “rogue” planets than stars in the Milky Way galaxy.

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Arline J. Mercier

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