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How the bodies wandering in the interstellar space ended up on their own

We now know nearly 5,000 planets outside our solar system. If you imagine what would happen in one of these distant worlds, or an exoplanet, especially if you’re a Star Wars fan, your spiritual image may include a parent star or multiple stars. There is a possibility.


But scientists Recently discovered No more planet It’s floating in space more than we thought it would be. Not illuminated by friendly stellar companions. These are icy “floating planets” or FFPs. But how did they all end up on their own, and what can they tell us about how such a planet would be formed?

Finding more and more exoplanets to study has, as we expected, broadened our understanding of what the planets are. In particular, the border between the planet and the “brown dwarf” —Cool star Cannot fuse hydrogen like any other Performer— It’s getting more and more blurry. What determines whether an object is a planet or a brown dwarf has long been the subject of debate. Is it a matter of mass? If I’m doing fusion, will the object no longer be a planet? Or is the way the object was formed the most important?

About half of the stars and brown dwarfs are isolated, and the rest are multiple. Star system, We usually think of planets as dependent objects in orbit around the stars. Recently, however, advances in telescope technology have made it possible to see smaller, cooler, isolated objects in space, such as FFP, which is too low in mass and temperature to be considered a brown dwarf.

What we don’t yet know is how these objects were formed. Stars and brown dwarfs are formed when the dust and gas regions of the universe begin to fall on themselves. Due to the high density of this region, more and more material (due to gravity) falls into this region in a process called gravitational collapse.

Eventually, this gas sphere will be dense and hot enough to initiate fusion. In the case of stars, hydrogen burns and deuterium (a type of hydrogen with additional particles in the nucleus, neutrons) burns. Brown dwarf.. FFP can be formed in the same way, but it will not be large enough to initiate fusion. It is possible for such planets to begin life in orbits around the stars, but at some point they will be expelled into the interstellar space.

Various features of free-floating planets, brown dwarfs, and low-mass stars. 13 Jupiter mass is often used to distinguish between planets and brown dwarfs. Note that size and mass are different entities. Brown dwarfs are about the same size as Jupiter, but heavier.The author’s own work

How to find a wandering planet

Illegal planets are relatively small and cold, so they are difficult to find. Their only internal heat source is the remaining energy left over from the decay that led to their formation. The smaller the planet, the faster its heat will be released.

Cold objects in the universe emit less light, and the light they emit becomes redder. Stars like the Sun have peak radiation in the visible range. The peak of FFP is in the infrared instead. Many such planets were discovered using the indirect method of “gravitational microlensing” because it is difficult to see them directly.

However, detecting a planet through a single unique event has the disadvantage that it can never be observed again. Also, we are not looking at the planet in relation to its surroundings, so we are missing some important information.

The best strategy for observing FFP directly is to catch it when you are young. That is, they are in the brightest state, as there is still a modest amount of heat left from their formation. In recent studies, researchers have done just that.

The team combined images from numerous telescopes to find the darkest object in the group of young stars in the following regions: Scorpion top.. They used the data from a large general-purpose survey in combination with their own recent observations to generate detailed visible and infrared maps of the sky region over 20 years. Next, they searched for faint objects moving in a way that showed that they were members of a group of stars (rather than stars in the background far away).

The group found 70-170 FFPs in the upper scorpion area, making the sample the largest directly identified so far. However, there is considerable uncertainty in that number.

Illegal Planet: How the body wanders in the interstellar space and ends on its own

Image of clouds above the scorpion. Credit: NASA

Rejected planet

Based on our current understanding of gravitational collapse, it seems that there are too many FFPs in this group of stars and not all of them can be formed that way. The authors of the study conclude that at least 10% of them must have started life as part of the star system. Formed on a dust disc Dust around young stars instead of passing through Gravitational collapse.. However, at some point, interaction with other planets can release the planet. In fact, the authors suggest that these “rejected” planets may be as common as planets that were alone from the beginning.

If you’re panicking about the sudden spin-off of the Earth into the depths of the universe, you probably don’t need to worry. These events are much more likely to occur early in the formation of the planetary system, when many planets are competing for position. .. But that’s not impossible. If anything is outside the established planetary system, Another star etc., Was supposed to destroy it, then the planet could still be separated from its sunny home.

There is still a long way to go to fully understand these wandering planets, but such studies are worthwhile. As new telescope technology becomes available, we can revisit the planet for further exploration. This could reveal more about the origins of these strange worlds.


Citizen scientists find young Jupiter-like objects overlooked in previous searches for exoplanets


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How the bodies wandering in the interstellar space ended up on their own

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