Astronomers discover two rogue planets that do not orbit a star

Astronomers from Warsaw University in Poland have identified two “rogue planets” in our galaxy that do not orbit around a star. Unlike the vast majority of discovered planets, these rogue planets drift through space alone with no sun to shine on them.

Debate has raged in astronomical circles for years as to whether rogue planets could exist. Since they do not have a star to illuminate them, they are extremely difficult to find as they are almost always in the dark. However, a technique called gravitational microlensing allowed researchers to identify rogue planets by seeing when a planet comes between a distant star and the Earth. When this happens, the planet acts like a lens, distorting the light that we can see from that star when it reaches Earth. This indicates that a massive body like a planet is passing in front of the star, and the size of the body can be estimated from the size of the distortion.

The two discovered rogue planets are called OGLE-2017-BLG-0560 and OGLE-2012-BLG-1323, named after the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE) survey that discovered them. The first planet detected, OGLE-2017-BLG-0560, was detected in April 2017 and could be between one and twenty times the mass of Jupiter. Finding evidence of this planet inspired the scientists to look back through their older research data for similar evidence, which is how they discovered the smaller OGLE-2012-BLG-1323, somewhere between Neptune and Earth in size, which was first captured in August 2012. The results were published in the preprint journal archive arXiv.

This makes the planets two of only a small handful of rogue planets that have been identified so far. The reason that the researchers cannot be sure of the exact size of each planet is that they cannot know how far the planets are from Earth. Therefore, the planets could be larger and further away or smaller and closer and produce the same gravitational effect on the light from distant stars.

Even though they are hard to spot, some astronomers predict that rogue planets are not rare in our galaxy. Neil DeGrasse Tyson speculated that there could be billions of rogue planets out in the cold of space, created in the chaotic births of solar systems and flung out into space.

Emerging Tech

‘Super-Earth’ discovered orbiting nearby star

Astronomers have discovered a large planet circling a sun nearby to Earth called Barnard's Star. The potential new planet is thought to be cold and icy and has a size of around 3.2 times the Earth.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in November, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to ‘Dracula’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Gaming

‘Fortnite’ gifts perfect for the video game fan in your life

Chances are someone on your holiday shopping list is a fan of Fortnite. As the most popular game on the planet, there are plenty of Fortnite-themed gift options available for purchase in stores and online. Here are the best ones we found.
Emerging Tech

Pairs of supermassive black holes spotted in colliding galaxies

Astronomers have discovered several pairs of supermassive black holes in galaxies that are colliding with each other. These black holes will spiral closer and closer together and eventually merge into one supermassive black hole.
Emerging Tech

Google’s balloon internet is coming to Kenya in 2019

In order to bring the internet to those who lack it, a company called Loon is launching balloons into the stratosphere. From more than 12 miles up, these balloons beam connectivity over a large area on the ground.
Emerging Tech

Hikers missing on Mount Fuji could soon find a drone buzzing above their heads

Hikers who go missing while climbing Japan's highest mountain could soon find a drone buzzing above their head. A new system using the flying machines has been set up on Mount Fuji for future search-and-rescue missions.
Emerging Tech

Elon Musk receives FCC approval to launch over 7,500 satellites into space

Not surprisingly, SpaceX is thinking big with Starlink, its space-based global broadband network. This week, the company received FCC approval to launch 7,518 satellites into a low-Earth orbit for its satellite internet service.
Cars

The world’s first 3D-printed titanium wheels are so intricate they look fake

HRE Performance Wheels and GE Additive have teamed up to create the world's first 3D-printed titanium wheels. They are not only impressively durable, but extremely lightweight as well.
Emerging Tech

Of all the vape pens in the world, these 5 are the best

Vaping concentrates has become significantly more popular, especially among those that use cannabis for medicinal purposes. But don’t use just any vape pen: we found these five devices to be our favorites in 2018.
Emerging Tech

DJI Mavic 2 Pro vs Mavic 2 Zoom: What’s the real difference?

DJI's Mavic 2 series drones are ready to fly -- but which one is right for you? The Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom are nearly identical save for their cameras. Here's what you need to know about these powerful new UAVs.
Emerging Tech

This startup will sequence your entire genome for free — but there’s a catch

Want to get your DNA sequenced but don’t want to shell out the hundred bucks or so to do so? A new startup called Nebula Genomics offers you the opportunity to have it done for free.
Emerging Tech

Here’s all the best tech gear and gadgetry that survived Shark Tank

The television show "Shark Tank" has churned out quite a few strange, interesting, and downright awesome products -- so we rounded up some of the best ones for your perusal. Enjoy!
Emerging Tech

Students who designed transforming smart home will compete in Solar Decathalon

Modular smart homes are all the rage, and now some students from Virginia Tech are putting their money on their FutureHAUS, a modular, solar-powered, transforming smart home they're taking to the Solar Decathlon in Dubai.
Emerging Tech

Hotter than the sun: Chinese fusion reactor claims breakthrough

China’s “artificial sun” has reached a temperature of 180 million ºF with a heating power of 10 megawatts -- six times hotter than the center of the sun. The achievement could mark progress towards fusion as a clean energy source.