Artist's conception of a Jupiter-size rogue planet.

10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About the Rogue Planets

One of the microlensing studies suggests that the Milky Way contains over 400 billion rogue or orphan planets.

Our galaxy is massive, and there are billions of undiscovered planets and stars in it. Certain planets own a parent star, while the rest float aimlessly in space. Scientists have discovered over 1000 planets in our solar system that do not orbit any star. The said planets are most commonly known as the rogue or orphan planets. The rogue planets have no days or nights, and they exist in darkness. Scientists, in general, had a vague idea about the existence of such planets. However, they were officially discovered in around 2012.

A rogue planet bends the light of the star behind it, relative to Earth. Source: Jan Skowron, Astronomical Observatory, University of Warsaw.
A rogue planet bends the light of the star behind it, relative to Earth. Source: Jan Skowron, Astronomical Observatory, University of Warsaw.

Following are ten interesting facts regarding the rogue/orphan planets:

1) The rogue planets are known as mysterious celestial objects:

Quite a lot of scientists consider these planets mysterious mainly because they float aimlessly in space. Theorists generally come up with bizarre theories related to the orphan planets. However, we have no idea if any of those theories are accurate or not. Rogue planets are considered strange because they lie in darkness; no light touches their surface.

2) Rogue planets have molten cores:

Rogue planets generally have molten cores and frozen surfaces. There may be oceans of liquid water in the zone between those extremes. Scientists are not sure what might be swimming there as none of these planets have been explored as of yet.

3) There are two ways to locate or spot a rogue planet:

Exoplanets can be found with the help of their parent stars. However, things get a bit tricky when it comes to the rogue or orphan planets. Scientists cannot spot them in space as they do not have a parent star. Hence, the best way is to look for a young rogue’s heat in the infrared. Moreover, a method called gravitational microlensing also works well for older, cooler planets. According to various scientists, they can easily detect starless planets that are smaller than a Jupiter, or at least 300 times the mass of Earth.

4) Japanese astronomers introduced the concept of rogue planets in space:

As per various reports, the said planets turned up in the late 1990s, when a team of Japanese astronomers found evidence of warm, planetary-mass objects in the Chamaeleon cluster, about 500 light-years away. However, this discovery wasn’t verified or confirmed until 2012.

5) Multiple teams discovered rogue planets in different constellations:

Quite a lot of teams and organizations reported more rogue candidates in a cluster near the star sigma-Orionis, in the Orion nebula, and the Taurus star-forming region. Moreover, astronomers also spotted a hot (700 degrees Celsius) star-less planet approximately 100 light-years away.

6) There may be 400 billion star-less worlds in the Milky Way:

One of the microlensing studies suggests that the Milky Way contains over 400 billion star-less worlds. As per various experts, the lonely planets are more common than the stars. Moreover, data from two microlensing consortiums, known by the acronyms OGLE and MOA, pointed toward ten potential free-floating planets, spotted over a two-year-long survey.

7) Scientists believe that rogue planets move out of their orbits:

Experts believe that multiple free-floating planets are roaming through interstellar space because they have been kicked out of their orbits. As planets in young systems settle into their orbits, their gravitational force can sometimes send a sibling or two into space.

8) There could be life on the rogue planets:

The said planets are extremely cold. However, certain gas-giants, like Jupiter and Saturn, emanate more energy than they receive from the sun. Apart from the heat produced during the contraction of the planet’s core, radioactive decay is a source of heat that captures a significant amount of the heat produced during the origin of the planet. Hence, there could be life on these planets. None have been explored as of yet.

9) Rogue planets are the siblings of the exoplanets:

As stated above, quite a lot of scientists and experts believe that rogue planets are siblings of the exoplanets. However, they get kicked out of the orbit due to excess gravitational force. This is just a theory, though. It could be wrong as humans haven’t studied the rogue planets as of yet.

10) Rogue planets come in various sizes and forms:

Rogue planets come in all sizes ranging from small rocky planets to massive gas giants. However, they are quite difficult to detect, so all the candidates have been classified as large gas giants.

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