Earth It orbits the sun like a ship sailing in a circle around the anchor. But what if someone (or something) loosens the ship? What happens to a small world that is freed from the stars and the solar system and is flying helplessly and carelessly in the interstellar space? What happens if the planet becomes fraudulent?
Scientists suspect that billions of rogue planets or “illegal” planets may exist in the Milky Way, but so far, as many as 4,000 worlds have been discovered beyond us. Only a handful of candidates have appeared in the. Solar system.. Most of these potential fraudulent planets are huge, two to 40 times the mass of Jupiter (one Jupiter is equivalent to about 300 Earths). But now, astronomers believe they have detected a world of unparalleled injustice. A small, free-floating planet, roughly a mass of the Earth, running around the intestines of the Milky Way.
This discovery was made today (October 29) Astrophysical Journal Letter, May mark the smallest rogue planet ever detected, which can help prove long-standing cosmic theory. According to the authors of the study, this small world could be the first real evidence that free-floating Earth-sized planets could be some of the most common objects in the galaxy.
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“It’s very unlikely that we’ll detect such a low-mass object,” Przemek Mrroz, a postdoctoral researcher at the California Institute of Technology, told Live Science in an email. “We were very lucky or such objects are very common in the Milky Way. They may be as common as stars.”
Einstein magnifying glass
Most exoplanets in our galaxy are visible only for their host stars. In the literal sense, stars provide light that allows astronomers to directly observe the alien world. Scientists say that even if the planet is too small or too far to see directly, it occurs from the slightest attraction the planet exerts on the host star (called the radial velocity method) or when the planet passes in front of it. Planets can be detected by flickering. The side of the star facing the earth (passing method).
By definition, rogue planets do not have stars that illuminate their path, or telescope paths. Instead, the detection of fraudulent planets involves aspects of Einstein’s theory. General theory of relativity Known as a gravitational lens. Through this phenomenon, the planet (or even larger object) acts as a magnifying glass of the universe that temporarily bends the light of the object behind it from the perspective of the Earth.
“When a giant object passes between an Earth-based observer and a star from a distant light source, its gravity can deflect and focus the light from the light source,” Mr. Mr. Explained in a statement.. “The observer measures the short brightness of the original star.”
The smaller the object that bends the light, the shorter the perceived brightness of the star. Planets with several times the mass of Jupiter may produce a brightening effect that lasts for days, but planets with a small mass on Earth will brighten the original star in just a few hours or less, researchers said. .. This very rare event is called the “microlens method”.
“There are very few opportunities to observe the microlens method,” Mrroz added in a statement. “If we were to observe only one source star, we would have to wait almost a million years to see the source microlensed.”
Fortunately, Mroz and his colleagues did not observe only one star for research. They were watching hundreds of millions of stars. Using observations from the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE), a star survey based at the University of Warsaw in Poland, which has discovered at least 17 extrasolar planets since 1992, the team The center of the Milky WayLooking for signs of the microlens method.
In June 2016, they witnessed the shortest microlens event ever seen. The star in question was located about 27,000 light-years away in the densest part of the galaxy and brightened for only 42 minutes. Calculations show that the problematic object is not bound to any star in eight astronomical units (AU, or eight times the average distance from Earth to the Sun), and almost certainly a small planet emitted from the solar system. It was suggested that. After brushing with a much heavier object.
Depending on how far the planet is from the original star (current technology does not know), the fraudulent world can be between half and half of the Earth’s mass. In either case, this roaming world will be the least massed rogue planet ever detected. According to Mroz, it is a “huge milestone” for the science of planet formation.
“The theory of planet formation predicted that most of the rogue planets should be below Earth mass, but this is the first time we have been able to find such a low-mass planet.” Said Mroz. “It’s really amazing that Einstein’s theory can detect small rock fragments floating in the galaxy.”
Radek Poleski of the University of Warsaw, co-author of the study, told Live Science that even more small rock fragments could soon follow. Future planetary exploration telescopes like NASA Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope (Scheduled to be launched in the mid-2020s), Polesky said, will be much more sensitive to the smallest microlens events in the galaxy than the OGLE experiment almost 30 years ago. If isolated planets of near Earth’s mass are actually some of the most common inhabitants of the galaxy, it should not be long before many of them appear.
Originally published in Live Science.