There would be nothing unusual about this discovery, because we know many such exoplanets, were it not for the fact that it is the smallest such object known to us. Amazingly, the planet is the size of the Earth. Until now, astronomers believed that there were no such small objects of this type in our galaxy. Now we know that there may be more.
Lonely planets are very strange objects. They have been traversing space for billions of years, and in the Milky Way itself, there may be as many as 50 billion. Enthusiasts of strange cosmic stories believe that one such planet will soon fly past the Earth. It is about the famous Nibiru, which is to be the 9th planet of the solar system. This is what astronomers are currently looking for on the outskirts of the solar system.
Polish scientists from the OGLE team from the Astronomical Observatory of the University of Warsaw report that the object they detect is smaller than Earth and has a mass of about three Mars masses. Currently, it traverses spaces located several thousand light years from our planet.
Astronomers believe that such objects can be easily detected and characterized by observations from the Earth's surface. They use the technique of gravitational microlensing to search for such planets. Scientists observe the path of light rays near massive objects that can curve. In this way, massive objects act as a lens that focuses and amplifies the light of, for example, lonely planets, so we can detect them.
The OGLE-2016-BLG-1928 phenomenon related to this planet lasted only 42 minutes. It was the shortest microlensing event ever detected. The entire observation was carried out from Earth, namely the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, and instruments in Australia and South Africa.
This is great news because without investing in advanced space observation centers, they can be detected on a large scale. Their research can allow us to understand how they arise and whether there can be life on them. Astronomers believe that most of them are born near the center of our galaxy and are ejected from newly formed planetary systems.
Objects like this OGLE-2016-BLG-1928 will soon be observed by the flagship Nancy Grace Roman space telescope, which is currently being built by NASA. The agency plans to launch it into Earth orbit in 2025.