Extremely Massive Planet Found Lurking At The Center Of Milky Way

Posted: Nov 11 2017, 6:29am CST | by , Updated: Nov 11 2017, 6:32am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 
Extremely Massive Planet Found Lurking at the Center of Milky Way
Credit: NASA

The newly discovered world is so big it may not actually be a planet

Astronomers have discovered an extremely giant planet at the heart of our galaxy Milky Way. However, there remained some doubt over whether it can actually be classified as a planet.

Dubbed OGLE-2016-BLG-1190Lb, the newly detected world orbits a star located in Milky Way’s bulge and is about 13 times the size of Jupiter. With such a massive size, the alien world lies right on the boundary between being a star and a planet. So, there is a possibility that the newfound object could be a low-mass brown dwarf.

The object was found as a result of microlensing. Microlensing is a useful technique for detecting alien worlds hidden in the inner galactic disk and bulge. If two stars are lined up in the sky the light from the distant star is bent by the gravitational pull of the nearer star and the more distant star acts as a magnified glass when seen from Earth. Distant objects can be detected by using background stars as flashlights.

This is the first time scientists have detected such a massive planet by using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope observations. However, further research will be needed to determine its true identity.

“We report the discovery of OGLE-2016-BLG-1190Lb, which is likely to be the first Spitzer microlensing planet in the Galactic bulge/bar, an assignation that can be confirmed by two epochs of high-resolution imaging of the combined source-lens baseline object. The planet's mass M_p= 13.4+-0.9 M_J places it right at the deuterium burning limit, i.e., the conventional boundary between "planets" and "brown dwarfs.” Authors wrote in the study.

“Its existence raises the question of whether such objects are really "planets" (formed within the disks of their hosts) or "failed stars" (low mass objects formed by gas fragmentation). This question may ultimately be addressed by comparing disk and bulge/bar planets, which is a goal of the Spitzer microlens program.”

OGLE-2016-BLG-1190Lb completes an orbit around its host star in approximately three years and it is located some 22,000 light years away from the Earth.

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