An elusive, Earth-sized planet is creeping through our galaxy.
Scientists have long hypothesized planets moving, traveling through galaxies and with no stars in orbit. Unaffiliated with their sun, free-floating planets do not emit light like orbiting planets, meaning traditional research models cannot prove their existence.
Now, these cosmic rolling stones are no longer unknown.
Just a few years ago, Polish astronomers were able to provide the first evidence of such nomadic planets in our Milky Way, using relatively new detection methods. Now, the same group of OGLE (Optical Gravitational Lens Experiment) researchers have announced the smallest planet ever discovered through their evolutionary methods ̵1; and it could be just one of the few. There are many planets in our galaxy.
Previous techniques relied on blurred light patterns to find new planets, making the star appear to flicker as the world passes between the viewer and its star.
Since the free-floating planets have no stars – and therefore very little detectable radiation, astronomers at the University of Warsaw’s Astronomical Observatory were able to observe the planets. This adopts a phenomenon called “microgravity”, which acts like a magnifying glass. The bent light emanating from a star in the foreground showed warping in gravity, which they thought was caused by a planet, only passing through the frame.
It can also be seen through telescopes on the ground. The problem is, the method is difficult.
“The chances of observing microlensing are extremely thin because three objects – the source, the lens and the object – have to be in almost perfect alignment. If we were to observe only one source star, we would have to wait nearly a million years to see the source vilensed, ”Przemek Mróz, co-author of a new study on the discovery, published on Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The newly discovered planet, found in the central region of the Milky Way, is known as the Galactic Bulge, is the smallest asteroid ever recorded, with an estimated mass between Earth and stellar Fire ‘.
In a statement, the researchers said it was further evidence that “ground-based” telescopes could be used in finding exoplanets – a study NASA has devoted to Their new Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope. According to NASA, the telescope will “investigate longstanding astronomical mysteries, such as the force behind the expansion of the universe and look for planets far beyond our solar system”.