Tag Archives | Celestial bodies

Alien Planets Outnumber Stars

Montage of Jupiter and the Galilean satellites, Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.

Montage of Jupiter and the Galilean satellites, Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.

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:

If you look to the stars tonight, consider this: No matter how innumerable they may seem, there are far more planets than stars lurking out there in the darkness, a new study suggests.

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.”

[Continues at National Geographic News]… Read the rest

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