Astronomers from Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute have discovered a new potential exoplanet in the middle of the Milky Way.
Published in Phys.org the report names the new exoplanet OGLE-2016-BLG-119Lb and is 13 times bigger than Jupiter and can make a full orbit around its G dwarf star in 3 years. The report states the entire system is twenty-two light years away from our solar system.
The discovery was made possible through a microlensing event that essentially relies on using background stars as flashlights. The gravitational pull of a star can bend the light of whatever is behind it thus making it relatively easy in distinguishing celestial bodies. The microlensing was made possible thanks to the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE) a Polish astronomical project. Their mission is to search for extrasolar planets and dark matter. Head of the researching team at the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute, Yoon-Hyun Riu, states this exoplanet to be the first ever to be discovered through microlensing and the Spitzer spacecraft.
„We report the discovery of OGLE-2016-BLG-1190Lb, which is likely to be the first Spitzer microlensing planet in the galactic bulge/bar”
The bulge is what scientist call the central core of the galaxy where it’s filled with stars. So many in fact that conventional planet spotting techniques rarely work in that area.
However, astronomers are still trying to find conclusive evidence of the bodies’ true nature. The reason for this uncertainty is due to the planet’s mass which is right at the deuterium burning limit. This limit separates planets from brown dwarfs. It essentially means OGLE-2016 has enough mass to ignite into a star.
Brown dwarfs fall somewhere between a gas giant and a light star which begs the question whether this discovery is an exoplanet or just a low-mass brown dwarf.
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