NASA's Kepler telescope spotted a group of exoplanets wandering the galaxy. Astronomers referred to the date to find out that the retired space telescope still has the capability to spot the unusual number of cosmic bodies in space.
According to the scientists, 27 signals highlighted the existence of moving exoplanets. Five of the identified cosmic objects were foreign to the experts while the majority of them were already encountered before using the different space-hunting telescopes.
Rogue Exoplanets Are Moving Around the Earth
In 2018, Kepler encountered many problems which led to its retirement. It managed to send its last signal before it ran out of fuel. In a report by Science Alert on Thursday, July 8, the space telescope was not made for such a purpose: spotting random exoplanets in space.
The transit method which happens when an exoplanet crosses the planet and the other star involves the appearance of a "faint dip" in starlight. The exoplanets were able to appear before the telescope when it looked to the starfields and amassed the said dips.
Furthermore, there is a method called "gravitational microlensing" which is used to detect exoplanets since they could not be identified easily because they do not orbit around a star. This technique is possible but it is still hard to execute.
An Aging Telescope Spotted Exoplanets
According to Iain McDonald, an astronomer, the signals coming from the moving space bodies are very hard to find. He said that the telescope, which has blurred vision, was able to help them study the bright lights coming from the planets.
"From that cacophony, we try to extract tiny, characteristic brightenings caused by planets, and we only have one chance to see a signal before it's gone. It's about as easy as looking for the single blink of a firefly in the middle of a motorway, using only a handheld phone," McDonald said in a report written by the Royal Astronomical Society.
Despite its decreasing capability, the Kepler telescope successfully spotted 27 "microlensing" events in 2016. The experts observed for two months and found out that five of the discovered exoplanets were new to them. The rest were previously detected by the instruments during their past experiments.
Kepler Telescope Manages Unusual Job
What led the scientists to conclude that the spotted exoplanets were rogue was the absence of the feature possessed by a microlensing star. The incident was reportedly happening at frequent intervals only.
Even though that was not the usual job for the retired telescope, it managed to aid them in knowing that there were a lot of floating planets around the earth, as per University of Manchester astronomer Eamonn Kerins.
To read the study entitled "Kepler K2 Campaign 9 - I. Candidate short-duration events from the first space-based survey for planetary microlensing," visit Oxford Academic.
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Written by Joseph Henry