TESS has found a “free planet.”  what does that mean?

Space is a very wonderful place. In the common understanding, planets always orbit a star in a given system. However, this is not always the case. The TESS space telescope discovered the first planet of its kind in its history. This is not a unique case, because we already know this type of organism. However, with this discovery, TESS is proving very useful, because identifying such a planet is not easy.

Floating planets are an exceptional subject in the field of astronomy. It means celestial bodies that are not bound by the gravity of any star, and travel alone through space. The existence of such planets in space is already known, but finding them is not so easy – precisely due to the fact that they are not gravitationally “attached” to any star, they are not susceptible to the same detection methods as those in space. The state of objects that are elements of larger systems.

The main challenge facing researchers is their relatively limited emission of electromagnetic radiation. This makes it really difficult to detect using traditional methods. However, thanks to the use of gravitational microlensing, scientists have a new opportunity to identify such objects. This was also the case with the described free exoplanet, which was identified by the TESS space telescope.

TESS, on the other hand, was sent into space in 2018 and immediately became a key tool in the search for exoplanets – which are now also free planets. The unique ability to observe the brightness of thousands of stars made it possible to discover their precise gravitational lensing, which in turn enabled the discovery of the first such planet. This method is ideal for discovering not only standard planets associated with a star, but also those traveling through the vastness of space on their own.

Data related to this discovery have already been published in Astrophysical Journal. By analyzing data collected by TESS, researchers have identified a candidate for a floating planet located 3.2 parsecs from the star TIC-107150013.

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Scientists have discovered the secrets of dark matter.  They reached important conclusions

The discovery of the first freely orbiting planet by TESS opens new research opportunities. So far, not many of these objects have been found, so the more of them on the list, the better we can learn about their history and determine how some planets got around in space on their own in the first place. This is not a particularly common phenomenon in space.

So TESS is proving its value. The purpose of the telescope is to search for exoplanets by observing changes in the brightness of stars. It is equipped with four cameras that scan the sky for planets passing in front of the stars, which may indicate their presence. Thanks to its microgravitational lensing, TESS makes it possible to detect even the smallest changes in star brightness, significantly increasing our capabilities to detect objects of interest in space.

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