'Iceball' Planet discovered through Microlensing

Apr 27, 2017 16:19 IST

NASA scientists have discovered a new planet- OGLE-2016-BLG-1195lb- that has the same mass as Earth and orbits its star from the same distance as Earth orbits the sun.

The findings were reported in a study published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. The discovery adds to the scientist’s understanding of the types of planetary systems existing beyond Earth.

 New Iceball planet

Key Highlights

• The newly discovered planet is nearly 13,000 light-years away and orbits a small star.

• According to scientists the planet is likely to be too cold to sustain life, as its star is so faint.

• The planet, referred to as ‘iceball’ due to its probable cold state, is the lowest-mass planet ever found through microlensing.

• It would help scientists figure out the distribution of planets in Milky Way.

• The planet is located in the disk of our galaxy, on its fringe like two planets detected previously through microlensing by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.

• This discovery was made through the Korea Microlensing Telescope Network (KMTNet), which is operated by both the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute and Spitzer.

• The KMTNet consists of three wide-field telescopes, one in Chile, one in Australia and one in South Africa.\

NASA’s Cassini enters the never before explored region

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What is Microlensing?

• It is a technique that aids the discovery of distant objects by using background stars as flashlights.

• When a star crosses from the front of a bright star, the gravity of the star in the front focuses the light of the background star, making it appear brighter.

• So, a planet orbiting the foreground star may cause a glitch in its brightness.

• The technique has helped in the discovery of the most distant known exoplanets from Earth.

• It can also help detect low-mass planets that are considerably farther from their stars than Earth is from the sun.

• In the case of this discovery, the blip lasted only for a few hours.

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Read more Current Affairs on: Microlensing , Iceball , NASA , New Planet , New Discovery , Exoplanet , Astrophysical Journal

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