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Home / Science / Warped Starlight reveals the smallest Rogue planet known to science

Warped Starlight reveals the smallest Rogue planet known to science



Artist's conception of a rogue planet.

Artist’s conception of a rogue planet.
Picture: Jan Skowron / Astronomical Observatory, University of Warsaw

Free-floating planets are not bound to any stars, have been excluded from their original home systems.. The new study describes the smallest spurious planet discovered to date, in an astronomical triumph that brought an Einstein-inspired technique to a new extreme.

Spurious planets, also known as free-floating planets, do not have the gravity associated with any of the stars, which means that they actually shine through interstellar space. That these things exist is a terrifying thing, but rogue planets can be very common, with research from the beginning of this year there may be trillions in the Milky Way.

The free-floating planets begin the journey after it is received thrown from their birthplace by strong gravitational disturbances. And in fact, our own Solar System may be lost so planet, when Jupiter kicks off a newly formed planet into the depths of space a 4 bmillions of years ago. The majority of unintended spoof planets are particularly large, with planet formation theory suggesting weights range from 0.3 to 1 Earth mass, although they can include the planets are about the size of Jupiter.

Innthat research published last week in the Journal of Astrophysics, a Polish-led team of astronomers reported on the smallest spurious planet ever discovered. Their job get along well with idea that most rogue planets are relatively small. As new research shows, the masses of the newly discovered spurious planet lie between 0.3 Earth mass and 2.0 Earth mass (comparison, Mars is just above 0.1 Earth mass). But the data collected by Gaia Collaboration shows it is closer to the smaller number, so it could be a “subterranean mass object,” as the researchers describe.

Floating planets can be many, but they are notoriously difficult to detect. Usually, exoplanets are detected when they pass first the host star from our point of view, causes a temporary decrease in brightness (this is called the transition detection method). If it happens again a few days, months or years later, scientists know they are dealing with an alien planet attached to its host star. This does not apply to rogue planets, which require scientists to rely on a different method – one predicted by Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

It is called gravity lens, and as a referral method, it involves the union of two stellar bodies from our point of view. But instead of a dim star, the coherence bends the light, forming a temporary ring around the foreground. object.

Animation demonstrates the gravitational lens effect and how bent light creates the shape of a ring.
Gif: Jan Skowron / Astronomical Observatory, University of Warsaw / Gizmodo

“If a giant object (a star or a planet) passes between an observer on Earth and a distant source star, its gravitational force can deflect and focus light from source ”, Przemek Mroz, lead author of the new study and a postdoctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology, explain in a Warsaw University statement. “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 for almost a million years to see if the source is microlensed. “

Mroz and his colleagues were members of the OGLE (Optical Gravitational Lens Experiment), and they used a 4.4-foot (1,3-MetersThe Warsaw Telescope at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile to make the discovery. The OGLE team is proficient in this technique, having discovered many fake planets in the past. To increase detection rates, the team directed their telescopes to the star-dense galaxy bulge of the Milky Way, resulting in the discovery of a microscopic event, dubbed OGLE-2016- BLG-1928.

In addition to the gravitational light ring, astronomers also consider another important factor: the timing of the lens event. Really large objects can be created Microlensing events last for days, while some spoof planets can produce events lasting for several hours. These measurements are important because duration can be used to estimate the mass of a lens object.

Because the OGLE-2016-BLG-1928 lasted Just 42 minutes, which means we’re dealing with a relatively low mass object. The object’s estimated size is somewhere between Mars and Earth, and the authors say it is most likely three times the size of Mars. At 42 minutes, it does “the most extreme short-time microlens detected to date”, according to the study, with researchers added: “The attributes of the OGLE-2016-BLG-1928 put it at the edge of the current limit in detecting microlensing events in the short range of time and highlight the challenges that future surveys will be faced with events of extremely short time scale. “

Maybe this exoplanet really trajectory a star, but scientists could not find it. Or at least, they couldn’t find a star within 8 AU of the object, with 1 AU is average distance from Earth with the Sun. Andrzej Udalski, the lead investigator of the OGLE project, said the new paper shows “low mass free-floating planets can be detected and characterized using terrestrial telescopes. “.

Sadly, here is all we know about this tiny loss planet. Other information, such as its chemical composition or temperature, cannot be known at this time due to astronomical limitations. Hopefully we will be able to find out those details in the future, as we continue to investigate these fascinating objects.


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