Astronomers Estimate Huge Planets Could Be Hiding From View

Planet Spotting Is Not As Easy As You May Think

How do you spot a Planet? Get a telescope and start looking? That would be the simplistic view, but there are many calculations that Scientists use to determine whether a Planet exists or not. Light, gravity and distance are some of the variables used in calculations plus the further away they are from Earth the more difficult they become. In some new research by Atlantic it estimates that there are planets out there 10 times the size of Jupiter we just can’t see.

How can we be missing these planets? Read on to find out:

These planets, a fresh theory suggests, could be creating the gigantic spiral disks that appear after stars are formed in space. We’ve known about these circumstellar disks for some time, mixtures of gas and dust that can be seen a few million years after a star is born, but now astrophysicists Ruobing Dong, of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Zhaohuan Zhu, of Princeton University, think huge planets are part of this cosmic dance as well… we just can’t actually see them.

“It’s difficult to see suspected planets inside a bright disk surrounding a young star,” Dong said in a press statement. “Based on this study, we are convinced that planets can gravitationally excite structures in the disk. So if you can identify features in a disk and convince yourself those features are created by an underlying planet that you cannot see, this would be a smoking gun of forming planets.”


*A spiral galaxy bursting with stars, captured by the Hubble Space Telescope S. Smartt / ESA / Hubble / NASA

Using a combination of images taken from powerful telescopes and computer modelling software, scientists are learning more about the far reaches of space than ever before – even if planets themselves cannot be seen, their effects on other bodies can. By simulating how a star’s radiation spreads through its surrounding disk, Dong and Zhu found what they think is evidence of giant planets: if they’re right, it could change our understanding of how stars are formed and help researchers spot other planets in the future.


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