When we look up at the night sky we see millions of twinkling stars. But how many planets are we not seeing? Astronomers’ new study has found that ‘Jupiter-like gas giants’ are more common than previously thought. The National Geographic reports:
The study uncovered a whole new class of worlds: Jupiter-like gas giants that have escaped the gravitational bonds of their parent stars and are freely roaming space.
What’s more, “our results indicate that such planets are quite common,” said study team member David Bennett, an astronomer at Notre Dame University in Indiana.
“There’s a good chance that the closest free-floating planet is closer to Earth than the closest star.”
Ohio State University astronomer Scott Gaudi added, “It’s not surprising that free-floating planets are out there”—they’ve been predicted by planet-formation theories for years—”it’s just how many of them that they’re finding.”