A team of astronomers, using data from several European Southern Observatory (ESO) telescopes and other facilities, have just discovered at least 70 new rogue planets in our galaxy. This is the largest group of rogue planets ever discovered, an important step towards understanding the origins and features of these mysterious galactic nomads.
The team used observations from ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA), the VLT Survey Telescope (VST) and the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope located in Chile, along with other facilities. The team also used data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite, marking a huge success for the collaboration of ground- and space-based telescopes in the exploration and understanding of our Universe.
This research was presented in the paper “A rich population of free-floating planets in the Upper Scorpius young stellar association” to appear in Nature Astronomy (DOI: 10.1038/s41550-021-01513-x).
Read the full Science Release ESO telescopes help uncover largest group of rogue planets yet on the ESO website.
Image: This artist’s impression shows an example of a rogue planet with the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex visible in the background. Rogue planets have masses comparable to those of the planets in our Solar System but do not orbit a star, instead roaming freely on their own. © ESO/M. Kornmesser