A Lot of Worlds Adrift; Some With Life?

April 9, 2013 at 8:19 PM (astronomy topics, curious research, extraterrestrial studies, public debate, science and technology, web gossip)

WOW!!!  The search does continue!  I am glad that N.A.S.A. and it’s affiliate organizations are making legitimate efforts to locate and to identify all things of interest within outer space.  The ongoing search for exoplanets is fascinating, as it seems that a new one is found every week!

Current studies are suggesting the evidence of what are being labeled as rogue planets, or  nomad planets.  These are worlds that are floating seemingly adrift throughout space, with no home star to which they should be gravitationally attached.  Several recent studies are suggesting that our Milky Way may be filled with planets floating adrift, not gravitationally attached to any home stars, nor to any other planets of a solar system.

During 2012, studies took place at Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, which suggested that there could me as many as 100,000 times as many rogue planets adrift throughout the galaxy than there are stars within our Milky Way.  WOW!  The studies even are suggesting that these planets have the potentials to host life!  This would be possible because of the planets’ potentials to have thick atmospheres, which would have allowed them to maintain the necessary levels of heat to keep their surfaces warm enough for live to emerge.  It even is postulated that such planets could maintain liquid water due to the warmth from internal planetary heat, and that some of these worlds could be geologically active!

Additioally, these rogue planets could have moons. Their own forces of gravity would have allowed them to maintain possession of their planetary subjects, as both the planet and the moon (or moons….) wander adrift throughout the galaxy.  Plus, the gravitationally-induced heat from related interaction between the planet and it’s satellites would serve as another heat source.  This necessary warming could provide the potential settings for life forms to emerge and to evolve.

Of course, this is all theory and speculation.  Although rogue planets have been spotted, no traces of life have been observed, ever.  Yet, it does increase the interest levels in the search for extraterrestrial life, giving more options to be explored for possibly habitable worlds.  At this time, four suspects have been recognized to be actual rogue planets, or possibly rogue planets.

Current studies are continuing to seek out and to identify rogue planets.  S Ori 52 is currently identified as a rogue planet, and as a sub-brown dwarf.  It is a gas giant which had the potential to be a star.  Yet, it is not massive enough for the necessary ingition of it’s deuterium levels, which is needed for thermonuclear fusion to begin, creating a star.  The planet would have to be at least thirteen times the mass of Jupiter, and they do not reach that level of mass.

Currently, four free-floating planets have been discovered.  S Ori 52 is located within the Delta Orionis (Mintaka) star cluster.  There are three major stars of this cluster, which are Alnilam (Epsilon Orionis), Alnitak (Zeta Orionis), and Mintaka.  These are the three stars of Orion’s Belt.  The host star is western Mintaka, located at our western perspective within this cluster, as it is roughly 915 light years away from our Earth.  Mintaka actually made it into the realm of Star Trek lore, hosting a world called Mintaka III, which supported a sentient species called The Mintakans!












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