Store Is Closed
Billions of Planets May Be Drifting Without a Star
May 19 2011 11:18:14 am EST
It’s a cold an lonely world without a star to orbit, and recent observations indicate that there may be twice as many orphaned planets than there are stars in the galaxy.
From Scientific American: Two astronomical collaborations report in the May 19 Nature that they have located a population of 10 celestial objects, each with about the mass of Jupiter, with no detectable host star. By extrapolation, the study’s authors, from the Microlensing Observations in Astrophysics (MOA) collaboration and the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE) collaboration, calculate that there should be almost twice as many such objects in the Milky Way as there are stars. Some of the newfound objects may simply orbit a star at a distance so great that their host star is not apparent, but the researchers estimate that most of them are indeed free-floating.