Exoplanet news part 3: There may be hundreds of *billions* of planets in our galaxy!

Bad Astronomy: Exoplanet news part 3: There may be hundreds of *billions* of planets in our galaxy!

The new result comes from what’s called microlensing.

This kind of event takes an extraordinarily precise alignment, so they’re extremely rare. To compensate, you need to look at a lot of stars. So astronomers did: a survey using two telescopes covered several million stars every night, looking for the tell-tale bump(s). Over the course of six years, they found three — yes, only three — planets orbiting other stars acting like wee distant lenses. But that number is actually pretty good: when combined with previous surveys, and also taking into account how many lenses they didn’t see (which is important, statistically), they can extrapolate with some confidence about the numbers and types of exoplanets out there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *