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Kepler Data Reveal Four Earth-Mass Free-Floating Exoplanets

Dragon
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Post by Dragon Sat Jul 10, 2021 4:11 am

Using data from NASA’s Kepler/K2 mission, astronomers have detected four new microlensing events that are consistent with free-floating planets of similar masses to Earth.

Gravitational microlensing is an observational effect that was predicted in 1936 by Albert Einstein using his general theory of relativity.

When one star in the sky appears to pass nearly in front of another, the light rays of the background source star become bent due to the gravitational attraction of the foreground star.

This star is then a virtual magnifying glass, amplifying the brightness of the background source star, so astronomers refer to the foreground star as the lens star.

If the lens star harbors a planetary system, then those planets can also act as lenses, each one producing a short deviation in the brightness of the source.

Roughly one out of every million stars in our Milky Way Galaxy is visibly affected by microlensing at any given time, but only a few percent of these are expected to be caused by extrasolar planets.


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Post by Dragon Sat Jul 10, 2021 4:13 am

Kepler Data Reveal Four Earth-Mass Free-Floating Exoplanets Image_9834-Free-Floating-Exoplanet
Image credit: Sci-News.com.

An artist’s impression of a free-floating exoplanet.


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Post by Dragon Sat Jul 10, 2021 4:15 am



Exoplanets: Weird, Wondrous Worlds

There's a huge amount of variety among exoplanets – planets outside our solar system.

There are water worlds, lava planets, egg-shaped worlds, planets with multiple suns, and even planets with no sun at all.


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Post by Dragon Sat Jul 10, 2021 4:16 am



Kepler Telescope Found New Planets Better Than Earth

The Kepler Telescope was built for one purpose; to look at a certain patch in the Milky Way in search of exoplanets.

The exoplanet hunter observed over hundreds of thousands of stars and discovered thousands of exoplanets during its lifetime.


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