OCT 03, 2016 09:49 AM PDT

This Exoplanet Discovery Was Made Possible by its Microlensing Effect

Using the tried and true Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have reportedly found another exoplanet orbiting two stars at a distance of about 300 million miles away that are part of a binary system about 8,000 light years away known as OGLE-2007-BLG-349.
 
It’s so named because the system was found in 2007, but the discovery of the exoplanet came under very interesting circumstances.
 

A circumbinary exoplanet has, for the first time, exhibited microlensing effects on the light around it.

 Image Credit: NASA/ESA

The exoplanet was originally discovered with the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE) initiative, which is responsible for having detecting more than 17,000 microlensing events since its inception, but the data was later confirmed when it was cross-referenced with information from Hubble.
 
As it turns out, the exoplanet was only found because the microlensing effect that its massive gravitational field was having on all of the light surrounding it. In other words, it was bending space-time and was observable from a distance.
 
Such activity would suggest the planet has a large mass to it; similar to that of Saturn from our Solar System. The findings are available in a paper online and have been accepted for publication in The Astronomical Journal.
 
Scientists are pointing out that this is the first time a circumbinary exoplanet discovery has ever exhibited microlensing effects, and more importantly, it will have astronomers re-thinking the way they look for exoplanets orbiting their host stars.
 
Why? Because by looking for these special characteristics, we may now be able to search for exoplanets that orbit much further from their host stars than ever before.
 
By looking for microlensing effects, we don’t need to wait for a planet to transit over the surface of a star and look for ‘flickering’ effects because microlensing effects mean something exists in a particular spot and is distorting light.
 
The new theory breathes new life into the Hubble Space Telescope, as it could now prove to be quite a useful tool in exoplanet discovery. It’s soon set to be replaced by the James Webb Space Telescope, but perhaps astronomers can still make good use of Hubble in their constant search for alien exoplanets in the meantime.
 
Source: Hubble Space Telescope via Seeker

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JUL 11, 2018
Space & Astronomy
JUL 11, 2018
How Will Astronauts Handle Trash During Deep Space Missions?
One of NASA’s long-term goals is to send humankind into deep space to explore other parts of the solar system; this includes, but isn’t limited...
JUL 23, 2018
Space & Astronomy
JUL 23, 2018
SpaceX Sees Another Successful 'Block 5' Falcon 9 Rocket Launch
Over the weekend, SpaceX launched yet another of its iconic Falcon 9 rockets from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Image C...
AUG 08, 2018
Space & Astronomy
AUG 08, 2018
Astronomers Say This is the Most Distant Radio Galaxy Ever Found
Our universe is a mysterious place, and that’s why astronomers are always peering into the depths of outer space in search of clues. Sometimes they f...
AUG 22, 2018
Space & Astronomy
AUG 22, 2018
How Much Damage Could an Asteroid Impact Do?
There are so many asteroids in the solar system that it’s challenging to keep track of them. In fact, many asteroids are still lurking in the shadows...
AUG 26, 2018
Space & Astronomy
AUG 26, 2018
NASA's OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Snaps its First Picture of Bennu
NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission is now one step closer to realizing...
SEP 13, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
SEP 13, 2018
Faster-Than-Light Jets Seen from Neutron Star Merger
Is there anything in the universe that can travel faster than light? A recent report in the journal Nature declared that the movement of a jet of expl...
Loading Comments...