Lonesome planet

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brian livesey
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Lonesome planet

Post by brian livesey »

Astrophysicists have known for some time that there are wandering planets, unattached to stars, in the galaxy. In 2011, a team discovered ten such wanderers,but all of them are Jupiter-sized bodies. Now, a much smaller wanderer has been discovered. It's estimated to have a mass between Mars and Earth.
The researchers used the microlensing technique to discover the new planet. This is where the light from an object that's behind a star gets bent ( refracted ) and magnified by the obscuring star's gravitational field, giving the object away.
The research is published in the astrophysical Letters. Postdoctoral scholar and a team leader at the California Institute of Technology, Przemek Mroz, said, "The chances of observing microlensing are extremely slim because three sources, - source, lens and observer - must be nearly perfectly aligned."
Astrophysicists think that the galaxy could be teeming with lone planets, possibly more than the number of stars. Presumably, some were formed from protoplanetary discs that lacked a central star, and others flung out of their orbits.
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Eva Braun
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Re: Lonesome planet

Post by Eva Braun »

Astronomers have discovered hundreds of exoplanets over the past decade, largely due to the darkening that occurs when a planet passes against the background of a star's disk.
brian livesey
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Re: Lonesome planet

Post by brian livesey »

What a revelation it would be Eva, if one of those thousand or so exoplanets so far discovered was found to have an atmosphere indicating possible life on the planet. :D
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