Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Scientists find "billions" of isolated planets in Milky Way

Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt
Astronomers are reporting in the journal Nature a colossal find of "hundreds of billions of rogue, Jupiter-like planets that outnumber the stars in the Milky Way.

Imagine, what that means for moment. Hundreds of billions of shadowy worlds that could have moons or their own. So plentiful there aren't nearly as many stars in comparison.

I posted more at Threads of Adventure, including a little animation from NASA/JPL-Caltech.


  1. Mom! I mean Wow! Truly far out.

  2. failed stars I gather, brown dwarves maybe?

  3. I'm wondering why, given the standard model of star formation, didn't anyone think of this before?

    How much effort it would take for one of these crap-stars to ignite for a little while? They'd make interesting places for interstellar pit-stops to collect fuel or minerals. Species that evolved in gas-giant atmospheres might find them to be terraformable environments. Cool place to hide stuff, too.

  4. Maybe fling a couple of them together to get it fired up.

  5. Re: the brown dwarf theory, from the bunch of articles I've read today it seems like they're not quite willing to say they're "un-ignited stars" so much as Jupiters (less massive than a true BD) that spun away from their stars.

    It's all new research (which is why it's so freakin' exciting, frankly) but I wouldn't be surprised if they end up saying there's so much diversity--there's both.

    One article did state that the next step is to look for smaller versions, e.g., Neptune, Uranus-sized planet).


  6. @Huth, YES--that's a great point--bet they'd be very rich in elements (minerals).

    @Paladin, THAT is a STELLAR idea!

    /Somebody stop me!

  7. Holy Smokes!
    This is too cool!

    I guess this helps account for some of the mysterious Dark Matter, right?

  8. From what I've read so far it sounds like dark matter is much more prevalent and more dense/massive. Even all these extra planets would be a drop in the bucket compared to the mass needed to make up for dark matter.

    So the mystery remains! (I guess) ;)