Wednesday, May 18, 2011

'Free-Floating' Planets Found

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13416431

"Japanese astronomers claim to have found free-floating "planets" which do not seem to orbit a star.

Writing in Nature, they say they have found 10 Jupiter-sized objects which they could not connect to any solar system. They also believe such objects could be as common as stars are throughout the Milky Way.

The objects revealed themselves by bending the light of more distant stars, an effect called "gravitational microlensing".
...
They detected evidence of 10 Jupiter-sized objects with no parent star found within 10 Astronomical Units (AU). One AU is equivalent to the distance between our Earth and Sun. Further analysis led them to the conclusion that most of these objects did not have parent stars.
'Common' objects

Based on the number of such bodies in the area surveyed, the astronomers then extrapolated that such objects could be extremely common.

They calculated that they could be almost twice as common as "main-sequence stars" - such as our own Sun - which are still burning through their hydrogen fuel stock.
"

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