In a new paper appearing in the Jan. 12 edition of the journal, Nature, astrophysicist Kem Cook as part of an international collaboration, analyzed microlensing data that bridges the gap between a recent finding of planets further away from their parent stars and observations of planets extremely close to their parent star. The results point to more planetary systems resembling our solar system rather than being significantly different.
Gravitational microlensing occurs when light from a source star is bent and focused by gravity as a second object (the lens star) passes between the source star and an observer on Earth. A planet rotating around the lens star will produce an additional deviation in the microlensing. Image courtesy of the Space Telescope Science Institute.
Gravitational microlensing occurs when light from a source star is bent and focused by gravity as a second object (the lens star), which passes between the source star and an observer on Earth. A planet rotating around the lens star will produce an additional deviation in the microlensing. The first gravitational microlensing observations were made by the Massive Astrophysical Compact Halo Object (MACHO) collaboration, led by Livermore scientists.
The new research also determines that a large fraction of planets have orbital distances from 0.5 to 10 sun-Earth distances. In the past, using the Doppler shift technique, most extrasolar planets found were gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn that orbited stars that were much closer to them than the sun is to Earth.
An exoplanet is a planet outside our solar system. Over the past 16 years, astronomers have detected more than 700 confirmed exoplanets and have started to probe the spectra and atmospheres of these worlds. While studying the properties of individual exoplanets is undeniably valuable, a much more basic question remains: how commonplace are planets in the Milky Way?
The team found that approximately 17 percent of stars host Jupiter-mass planets. However, cool-Neptunes and super-Earths are more common, occurring 52 percent and 62 percent, respectively, of the time.
Gravitationally microlensing is very rare. In fact, fewer stars than one per million undergo micolensing at any time.
The team's result is consistent with every star of the Milky Way, hosting, on average, one planet or more in an orbital distance range of 0.5 to 10 sun-Earth distances.
"Our measurements confirm that low-mass planets are very common and the number of planets increases with decreasing planet mass, in an agreement with the predictions of the core accretion scenario of planet formation," Cook said. "Planets around stars in our galaxy appear to be the rule rather than the exception."
"We used to think that the Earth might be unique in our galaxy. But now it seems that there are literally billions of planets with masses similar to Earth orbiting stars in the Milky Way," concludes Daniel Kuba, of the European Southern Observatory and co-lead author of the paper.More Information
"Astronomers discover two planets similar to Jupiter and Saturn," Newsline, Feb. 15, 2008
"Astronomers discover distant, icy Earth-like planet," LLNL news release, Jan. 25, 2006
Massive Compact Halo Objects (MACHO) project
Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory provides solutions to our nation's most important national security challenges through innovative science, engineering and technology. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.
Anne Stark | EurekAlert!
Move over, lasers: Scientists can now create holograms from neutrons, too
21.10.2016 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus
20.10.2016 | The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences