Astronomers Make 'Exciting' Discovery - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Astronomers Make 'Exciting' Discovery

NEW YORK -- Are these planets without orbits? Astronomers have found 10 potential planets as massive as Jupiter wandering through a slice of the Milky Way galaxy, following either very wide orbits or no orbit at all. And scientists think they are more common than the stars.

These mysterious bodies, apparently gaseous balls like the largest planets in our solar system, may help scientists understand how planets form.

"They're finding evidence for a lot of pretty big planets," said Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, who wasn't involved in the research.

If they orbit stars, their sheer number suggests every star in the galaxy has one or two of them, "which is astounding" because that's five or 10 times the number of stars scientists had thought harbored such gas-giant planets, he said.

And if instead they are wandering free, that "would be really stunning" because it's hard to explain how they formed, he said.

If that's the case, it would give a boost to some theories that say planets can be thrown out of orbit during formation, said Lisa Kaltenegger of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, another outside expert.

Other scientists have reported free-wandering objects in star-forming regions of the cosmos, but the newfound objects appear to be different, said one author of the new study, physicist David Bennett of the University of Notre Dame.

Bennett and colleagues from Japan, New Zealand and elsewhere report the finding in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature. They didn't observe the objects directly. Instead, they used the fact that massive objects bend the light of distant stars with their gravity, just as a lens does. So they looked extensively for such "microlensing" events.

They found 10, each caused by one of the newfound objects. They calculated each object has about the mass of Jupiter, and estimated how common such objects are. They also found no sign of a star near these bodies, at least not within 10 times the distance from Earth to the sun. (For comparison, within our solar system that would basically rule out an orbit closer than Saturn's.) >>>CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Al Michaels sorry for 'Sunday Night Football' Weinstein joke

    Al Michaels sorry for 'Sunday Night Football' Weinstein joke

    Monday, October 16 2017 8:28 AM EDT2017-10-16 12:28:14 GMT

    DENVER - NBC play-by-play man Al Michaels has quickly apologized after making a joke about Harvey Weinstein during "Sunday Night Football." Michaels mused in the middle of the third quarter of the game between the New York Giants and Denver Broncos that the Giants were "coming off a worse week than Harvey Weinstein." 

    >>

    DENVER - NBC play-by-play man Al Michaels has quickly apologized after making a joke about Harvey Weinstein during "Sunday Night Football." Michaels mused in the middle of the third quarter of the game between the New York Giants and Denver Broncos that the Giants were "coming off a worse week than Harvey Weinstein." 

    >>
  • Police: Man kills girlfriend's toddler son, then robs her

    Police: Man kills girlfriend's toddler son, then robs her

    Sunday, October 15 2017 7:44 PM EDT2017-10-15 23:44:24 GMT

    HOLMES BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Police say a man killed his girlfriend's 17-month-old son and stole her car stereo and laptop while she was in the hospital with her dying child. The Bradenton Herald reports that 31-year-old David Vickers is being held without bail on charges of second-degree murder and aggravated child abuse.

    >>

    HOLMES BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Police say a man killed his girlfriend's 17-month-old son and stole her car stereo and laptop while she was in the hospital with her dying child. The Bradenton Herald reports that 31-year-old David Vickers is being held without bail on charges of second-degree murder and aggravated child abuse.

    >>
  • Fifth cat found mutilated in North Spokane

    Fifth cat found mutilated in North Spokane

    Sunday, October 15 2017 1:32 AM EDT2017-10-15 05:32:14 GMT

    Spokane, Wash. Jim Barrington of North Spokane has one question for his beloved cat Buddy, "What the heck happened Buddy?" Last Thursday morning Jim Barrington let Buddy out of the house early that morning for Buddy's daily routine "He didn't come back by the time I went to work and he didn't come back in by the time my wife left for work. "Jim came back home at 7:30 that morning and as he was driving up his street seeing something he thought 

    >>

    Spokane, Wash. Jim Barrington of North Spokane has one question for his beloved cat Buddy, "What the heck happened Buddy?" Last Thursday morning Jim Barrington let Buddy out of the house early that morning for Buddy's daily routine "He didn't come back by the time I went to work and he didn't come back in by the time my wife left for work. "Jim came back home at 7:30 that morning and as he was driving up his street seeing something he thought 

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/