This discovery was made possible by the large telescopes of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), installed in Chile
Roaming planets defy astronomical concepts because they do not orbit stars and form planetary systems that roam freely, without experiencing the gravitational pull of the center of gravity, such as our Sun and the planets, planets, asteroids and comets that make up the Solar System.
According to the Spanish version of the magazine National Geographic, astronomers made a unique discovery using data from different telescopes in Southern European Observatory (ESO): At least 70 new wandering planets the size of Jupiter, roam the Milky Way alone.
The discovery was described in a study published last Wednesday (12/22) in the scientific journal natural astronomy.
To be able to identify these celestial bodies, the team used the faint glow of the interstellar group of minor planets. With only a few million years since their formation, the worlds have remained hot enough to glow and be captured by the lens of telescopes.
“We measured the small motions, colors, and luminosity of tens of millions of sources in a large region of the sky. These measurements allowed us to reliably identify the faintest objects in that region, the wandering planets,” explains researcher Nuria Merritt-Roig, of University of Vienna, Austria, lead author of the study, citing National Geographic.
The observations were made with ESO telescopes located in Chile, especially the Very Large Telescope (VLT). With its high sensitivity and wide field of observation, it was possible to find 115 possible wandering planets – 70 of which have been confirmed – among the constellation Ophiuchus (Cerberatiere) and Scorpio.
Although there are at least two hypotheses to explain the existence of these wandering worlds without a host star, according to the journal, current instruments are not sensitive enough to discover more details.
“There are those who believe that errant planets could form from the collapse of a gas cloud too small to lead to star formation, or that they could be expelled from their host solar system. Most likely,” ESO explains in a statement.
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