At least 70 “disembarked” dark exoplanets, which do not belong to any stellar system and do not move around a mother star, were discovered in our galaxy by European astronomers.
These exoplanets roam alone in space, without the warmth and the light of a sun. This is the largest “batch” of such particular planets, as so far only a few isolated cases have been discovered.
Astronomers now estimate that there are many more such solitary exoplanets, called Free Floating Planets (FFPs), orbiting the universe, perhaps even billions.
The discovery – which nearly doubles the number of known starless exoplanets – was made with four telescopes from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile (the Very Large Telescope-VLT, VISTA, VST and MPG / ESO), as well as telescopes. in Hawaii (Subaru and others) and Arizona in the USA.
The researchers, led by astronomer Nuria Mire-Rouag of the Astrophysics Laboratory at the University of Bordeaux in France and the University of Vienna, published the paper in the journal Nature Astronomy.
All the exoplanets found, mostly in the constellation of Scorpio at a distance of about 420 light-years from Earth, they are large, having masses similar to Jupiter, the “giant” of our solar system.
Lonely exoplanets, moving too far away from any starlight to illuminate them, are very difficult to detect by telescopes (they were first discovered in the 1990s). Nevertheless, this time the “hunt” revealed a few to them. “We did not know how long to wait and we were really excited to find so many,” said Mire-Rouag.
Scientists have not come up with a definitive explanation for how they are created such “unloaded” exoplanets.
Some astronomers believe that they can be formed by gravitational collapse of a gas cloud, which is too small to lead to the formation of a star.
Another possibility is some planets to are eradicated from their parent star systems in the vast space and now to wander alone.
Future more powerful telescopes, such as the ESO Ultra-Large Telescope (ELT) under construction in the Atacama Desert, Chile, which will begin observations later this decade, are expected to shed more light on the mysteries of these planets.
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