Mysterious four ‘free-floating planets aren’t bound to any host star have been discovered. Here’s what you need to know. Here’s what you wish to know
The study, led by Iain McDonald from the University of Manchester, found that these “free-floating” or “rogue” planets aren’t bound to any host star and do not revolve around anything but themselves.
An artist’s composite of the Kepler telescope.
Analysts have uncovered a strange populace of “free-floating” planets, in a logical deed compared to “searching for the single flicker of a firefly within the center of a motorway, utilizing as it were a handheld phone”.
Free-floating as it’s been called to portray the four Earth-like planets, the fair shouldn’t be happening to any planet let alone 4 of them. And Earth-like to boot. So, let me wrap my head around this “all four are Earth-like”, that’s so implausible as to be unhinged for indeed recommending it. Or, it’s an add-up to lie, or Outsiders have stopped them there. Or I’ve fallen snoozing and I’m presently in cloud cookoo land.
The four planets that are consistent with planets of similar masses to Earth.
Using data obtained in 2016 by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, the study team identified what they believe to be four new planets “of similar masses to Earth”.
The now-retired Kepler telescope spent nearly a decade in space looking for Earth-size planets orbiting other stars, but scientists are still analyzing its data.
They may have originally formed around a host star, researchers noted, before being ejected by the gravitational tug of other, heavier planets in the system.
‘We don’t know exactly how far away they are,’ study author Professor Iain McDonald at the University of Manchester told MailOnline.
‘They are not among the nearest stars, but closer than the center of our Galaxy. So it’s probably most accurate to say they are several thousand light-years away.
Professor McDonald said they’re not sure exactly what these planets are like, but are ‘probably rocky’ with frozen oceans.
Tantalizing evidence has been uncovered for a mysterious population of “rogue” (or “free-floating”) planets, planets that may be alone in deep space, unbound to any host star.
‘If a planet like the Earth was flung out into deep space, far from the heat of a star, we’d expect the oceans to freeze over and the atmosphere to condense out onto the surface,’ he said.
‘Life could still continue, but only in places like hydrothermal vents, where there is another energy source.’
The host star is likely still burning brightly in space, but just with fewer planets in its orbit.
Four Earth-Like planets without a star to revolve around is insane, but doesn’t an Earth-like planet need a Moon to exert forces and other things to remotely look like on Earth? It sounds like a deliberate thing but it’s all bloody wrong because the probability of what they’re suggesting is definite naught.
Dr McDonald didn’t mince words on this one: “It’s about as easy as looking for the single blink of a firefly in the middle of a motorway, using only a handheld phone.”
The study team found 27 short-duration candidate microlensing signals that varied over timescales of between an hour and 10 days.
Gravitational microlensing relies on chance events where from a certain viewpoint, one star passes in front of another star.
“Our observations pointed an elderly, ailing telescope with blurred vision at one of the most densely crowded parts of the sky, where there are already thousands of bright stars that vary in brightness, and thousands of asteroids that skim across our field,” Dr McDonald said.
“From that cacophony, we try to extract tiny, characteristic brightenings caused by planets, and we only have one chance to see a signal before it’s gone.”
VIDEO: Microlensing has seen from earth.
Confirming the nature and existence of these free-floating planets will be a “major focus” for upcoming missions like the NASA Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope.
And for good reason — according to Associate Professor Trott, in our normal understanding of how planetary systems form, “we expect planets to be bound by stars”.
“So if we’re finding objects that are not bound, then either they’re planets that have been ejected from their planetary system, or they’re small, failed stars — so, objects that weren’t quite massive enough to actually ignite a star,” she said.
“We’re seeing a whole new population of objects, planetary objects, that we didn’t know existed before.”
During its two-month K2 campaign, Kepler monitored a crowded field of millions of stars near the center of our Galaxy every 3.
The study, led by Iain McDonald from the University of Manchester, found that these “free-floating” or “rogue” planets may be alone in deep space.
It means that, unlike Earth, which orbits the Sun, they’re not bound to any star.
Video: Animated representation of Multi-Planet systems discovered by Kepler Space Telescope.