Astronomers discovered a “rogue” planet floating in our Milky Way galaxy, not bound by any sun.
The “free-floating” world is a bit smaller than the Earth, making it the smallest planet ever.
But this may be one of many such rogue planets in our galaxy, and scientists suggest that they may even surpass the stars in our galaxy.
Scientists have used an astronomical phenomenon called “gravitational microlensing” to discover the planet, which reveals itself by bending the light of a farther star.
The result is an effect that is very similar to a giant magnifying glass, which brightens the light emitted by the background “source”
Gravitational microlensing is possible only when the telescope of the astronomer is almost perfectly aligned with the object being observed and the source star.
Przemek Mroz, a postdoctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology and the lead author of the study published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, said: “The chance of observing the microlens is very slim because the three objects (Source, lens and observer) must be almost perfectly aligned. .”
The researchers examined data collected from a microlens survey of the Milky Way bulge (the central part of the Milky Way).
They used the 1.3-meter Warsaw Telescope at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile to collect data.
Researchers say that this newly discovered planet is the smallest rogue world ever discovered, and the model suggests that its mass may be between Earth and Mars.
Radoslaw Poleski of the University of Warsaw Observatory is a co-author of the study.
“We can exclude planets with a star in about eight astronomical units.”
Astronomers believe that free-floating planets may have formed in a rotating disk of dense gas and dust around stars and ejected from their parent planetary system after gravitational interaction with other celestial bodies.
They say that studying these celestial bodies can enable astronomers to learn more about the past turbulence of planetary systems such as the solar system.
An article describing the discovery, “Candidates for terrestrial mass rogue planets detected in the shortest time-scale microlensing event” was published today Letter from Astrophysical Journal.
Supplementary report by the Press Association