Exciting discovery: astronomers monitor dozens of “floating” planets


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Khaled Younes |

Saturday 25 December 2021 – 06:20 PM

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Astronomers have monitored the largest group of free-floating planets in the Milky Way, which are known as “rogue planets”, according to data from observatories of the US National Science Foundation (NSF), along with a number of other observatories around the world.

Scientists have discovered a group of at least 70 free-floating planets – planets that do not orbit a star – in a region close to Milky Way, known as the Scorpio Superior Star Association.

The scientists documented their discovery in a study published in the journal Nature Astronomy, where the study’s author, Nuria Merit-Roig of the Astrophysics Laboratory in Bordeaux, along with a team of astronomers, used observations and archival data from a number of large observatories, including the telescopes of the European Observatory. South Africa, and Subaru, to analyze 80,000 photos over 20 years.

Free-floating planets are often discovered from observing the chance of a brief alignment between an exoplanet and a background star.

As for new planets, they were discovered in a different way. It is usually impossible to photograph these planets, lurking far from any star that illuminates them. However, the researchers took advantage of the fact that these planets are still hot enough to glow during millions of years after their formation, making them amenable to For detection directly by sensitive cameras on large telescopes.

The research team used 80,000 observations to measure the light of all members of the association across a wide range of optical and near-infrared wavelengths and combined them with measurements of their movement in space.

It should be noted that rogue planets roam the universe without orbiting a star, so they are also known as floating or orphan planets, and were first discovered in the 1990s, but recent discoveries have nearly doubled the known total.

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