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An Earth-like rogue planet found drifting in the Milky Way

Astronomers have recently found an Earth-like ‘rogue planet’, drifting in the Milky Way. ‘Rogue planets’ are those planets that leave the gravitational embrace of the solar system and drift through the interstellar space forever. The scientists have now discovered a low-mass rogue planet, which has no stars near it and its distance from Earth still remains unknown. The newly-discovered rogue planet has been named ‘OGLE-2016-BLG-1928’. It was discovered in a micro-lensing event that lasted only 41.5 minutes.

The 30 authors who are listed as contributors for the work, said that they believe that in the early days of a solar system, some low-mass planets will be ejected from the star’s gravitational grip. The astronomers said that things can be chaotic in the early days and gravitational interactions between the star and all the planets can sometimes send small planets out into space to fend themselves.  The scientists said, “According to planet-formation theories, such as the core accretion theory, typical masses of ejected planets should be between 0.3 and 1.0 Earth masses.”The ‘rogue planets’ in the vast darkness of space requires an innovative approach, i.e., gravitational lensing. The scientists said that in this case, the low-mass planet acts as the lens, and depending on how much the light from the distant star is affected by the foreground object, astronomers can learn quite a bit. The authors explained that a relatively tiny object like a low-mass planet does not bend much light, and not for too long, either.


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