Exoplanet 13 Times Larger Than Jupiter Found Near Center of Galaxy
Another day, another startling exoplanet discovery.
At this point, NASA's Kepler telescope has literally found thousands of exoplanets candidates, and about half of them have been confirmed.
The discovery of another exoplanet is in itself not that exciting, right? Leave it to this exoplanet recently found by astronomers from the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI) to prove you wrong.
Recently spotted in our galaxy's bulge, astronomers discovered the exoplanet, which is 13.4 times the size of Jupiter, using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope observations and Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE).
"We report the discovery of OGLE-2016-BLG-1190Lb, which is likely to be the first Spitzer microlensing planet in the galactic bulge/bar, an assignation that can be confirmed by two epochs of high-resolution imaging of the combined source-lens baseline object," they wrote in the scientific paper on the event.
Microlensing is a technique that uses background stars as "flashlights... If a star moves in front of an another star, the light from the distant star is bent by the gravitational pull of the nearer star and the more distant star is magnified."
OGLE-2016-BLG-1190Lb has a parent star that it orbits once every three years, but the exoplanet itself is nearly large enough to become a star.
Its mass, according to the KASI team, is "right at the deuterium burning limit, i.e., the conventional boundary between 'planets' and 'brown dwarfs,' " which is why the KASI astronomers haven't ruled out the possibility that the exoplanet is actually a "low-mass brown dwarf."
At 22,000 light years away from Earth, the exoplanet is one of the farthest ever discovered. Its existence could mean the discovery of more impressively large planets (or failed stars/low-mass brown dwarfs) in the future.
There is so much out there that we haven't seen. If we're discovering exoplanets more than 13 times the size of Jupiter today, just imagine what the future holds.