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New Planets
Microlensing nomad planets
05/24/12

 

Nomad planets have been discovered using a phenomenon known as microlensing. During this effect, a star appears to momentarily brighten as a nomad planet passes between it and Earth. This is because the gravitational distortion of space caused by the planet bends the starlight as it travels past it and toward Earth. Multiple images of the star can be created along a ring that circles the nomad planet, as viewed from Earth, and those images collectively make the star appear momentarily brighter. Albert Einstein predicted this effect would be impossible to observe, but microlensing is now a standard technique used to study low-mass stars and other dark objects in the Milky Way Galaxy. In this artistic rendering, the size of the Earth and the nomad planet are exaggerated to highlight the microlensing effect. Credit: L. Strigari



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