Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Orphan Planets

Billions of Dark Planets Roam the Milky Way - The Daily Galaxy 9/20/11

Astronomers have finally detected large exoplanets that orbit no particular stars. This was something we expected to find but until has been too difficult to detect in interstellar space. It has long been thought that after the big bang and the creation of galaxies, large and small planets alike were playing cosmic pinball amidst the immense gravitational forces as material coalesced. Many planets were destroyed in the process, some were caught in orbits around nearby stars and many were thought to have been flung into the abyss of space in between star systems to float for ages, dark and alone. In fact, many astronomers feel there are more of these orphan planets than there are regular planets around stars in our galaxy. They are just much more difficult to detect since there is no gravitational wobble or light dimming associated with a parent star (how most planets are currently being detected). Unfortunately, the story doesn't go into detail as to how these planets were detected. I would be interested to know the method for determining these bodies.

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