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!
Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte
17.08.2018 | Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)
Protecting the power grid: Advanced plasma switch for more efficient transmission
17.08.2018 | DOE/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory
New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference
Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...
Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...
Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.
When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...
Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.
Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....
Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.
Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...
17.08.2018 | Event News
08.08.2018 | Event News
27.07.2018 | Event News
17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
17.08.2018 | Information Technology
17.08.2018 | Life Sciences