400 Earth-mass rogue planets in the Milky Way Galaxy? NASA explains

NASA may find over 400 rogue planets roaming around the Milky Way Galaxy in future missions. These starless rogues might outnumber their orbiting counterparts in our galaxy.

| Updated on: Jul 26 2023, 10:02 IST
Asteroid alert! NASA tracks 5 space rocks approaching Earth at breakneck speeds
1/5 Asteroid 2023 OS - Asteroid 2023 OS, is currently heading towards Earth and will pass closely by Earth today, July 21. The asteroid is nearly the size of an aircraft with a width of 150 feet. It is travelling at almost 38946 kilometers per hour and will make its closest approach at 1.9 million kilometers.  (Pixabay)
2/5 Asteroid NM1 – Asteroid NM1, which is nearly 110 feet wide, is heading for Earth and will also make a close approach today, July 21. It is moving at a blistering speed of 31998 kilometers per hour. It will miss Earth at a close distance of 5 million kilometers. (Pixabay)
3/5 Asteroid 2023 MX5 – Yet another asteroid named Asteroid 2023 MX5 will make its closest approach to Earth today, July 21. In terms of size, it is almost 250 feet wide. As per NASA, it will come as close as 4.5 million kilometers and is already moving at a speed of 42540 kilometers per hour. (Pixabay)
4/5 Asteroid 2023 NR1 – Asteroid 2023 NR1 will make its extremely close approach to the planet tomorrow, July 22. The asteroid, with a width of around 300 feet, will approach at a distance of 1.1 million kilometers and at a speed of nearly 54710 kilometers per hour. (Pixabay)
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5/5 Asteroid 2023 MM3 – Asteroid 2023 MM3, with a width of nearly 200 feet, will make its closest approach to Earth tomorrow, July 22. The space rock is already rushing towards Earth at a speed of 22958 kilometers per hour and will miss the planet by a distance of 7.3 million kilometers. (Pixabay)
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NASA space telescope may discover over 400 rogue planets in our Milky Way Galaxy. (NASA Exoplanets)

NASA reveals that the Milky Way Galaxy may contain over 400 Earth-mass rogue planets. These rogue planets drift in space and they do not orbit any star at all, which makes them special. It is speculated that these planets are hidden in the Milky Way Galaxy and NASA's Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope could spot over 400 of these rogue planets.

According to NASA's report, the unknown planets were from outside the galaxy, but drifted into it with some unknown mechanism.

“We estimate that our galaxy is home to 20 times more rogue planets than stars – trillions of worlds wandering alone,” said David Bennett, a senior research scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

About the rogue planet and upcoming mission

So far we know that planets outside the solar system are called exoplanets, however, these exoplanets orbit around a star and they can be detected due to the effect of their host star, unlike the rogue planets, as they are so far away from their host star making it difficult for researchers to spot them.

To detect such a planet, NASA may launch a mission in May 2027. Scientists believe that NASA's Nancy Grace Roman Telescope may be able to spot the rogue planets. Over 50 earth-sized rogue planets can be spotted but the new study reveals that the number of such planets has increased to 400. Scientists will employ microlensing, to effectively detect obscure, non-light-emitting entities such as rogue planets and other small objects.

Nancy Grace Roman Telescope

The Roman Space Telescope is an observatory which was created by NASA to study infrared astrophysics, photograph exoplanets, and uncover the mysteries of dark energy and dark matter. It is set to launch by May 2027. Now, the study reveals that it can also detect Earth-sized planets that are roaming out in space.

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First Published Date: 26 Jul, 09:38 IST