Rogue Worlds Throw Planetary Ideas Out of Orbit

When Galileo Galilei, a mathematician at the University of Padua, trained a spyglass of his own creation on the sky. He was overwhelmed with what he saw — more than 500 new stars in the constellation Orion. In addition to the familiar three in the hunter’s belt and six in the sword. In October, astronomers used the James Webb Space Telescope to zoom in on one of the middle stars in the sword and identified another 500 or so previously unseen spots. The worlds are so small and dim that they blur the line between star and planet. It’s an ambiguity that plagued Galileo.

Dark Worlds Everywhere

Free-floating worlds escaped the notice of astronomers for centuries because they Phone Number List are extremely dark. To fuse hydrogen and shine brightly, stars need to be at least 80 times as massive as Jupiter. Rogue worlds are much lighter. And are commonly defined as weighing less than 13 Jupiters. (Anything between 13 and 80 Jupiters can fuse a heavier variant of hydrogen and is classified as a brown dwarf, or what astronomers sometimes romantically call a failed star.

Drops of Jupiters

Astronomers had suspected that JWST would be a free-floating-planet-finding machine. It sits far Buy Email List beyond the interfering murk of Earth’s atmosphere. Its giant mirror gives it far more sensitivity to the fine features of the universe than its forerunner, the Hubble Space Telescope. And it picks up infrared light, which makes it perfect for spotting dimly glowing worlds. Pearson partnered with Mark McCaughrean, an ESA astronomer, to look more deeply for free-floating worlds than had previously been possible.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *