NASA detects mysterious planets floating freely in space

Research with the NASA Kepler Space Telescope has captured intriguing signals suggesting Earth-sized planets lurking in space.

These signals, on the other hand, are not like the longer signals that the planets in question would be expected to produce if they merged with a host star similar to our Sun.

Therefore, the researchers suggest that these planets may have once formed around their own stars and were then ejected from the solar systems by the gravitational pull of their other, heavier neighbors.


The signals were captured using the “microlensing” principle first predicted by Albert Einstein. This happens when foreground stars act as a magnifying glass for the stars behind them, which can be seen in a similar way to bursts of brightness.

Most such rare events are caused by stars. But a small fraction of a very small number of events also originate from planets.

Despite fears that these signals may never be found, in the new study, scientists detected signals that appear to originate from other planets.

“These signals are extremely difficult to detect,” said Iain McDonald of the University of Manchester, who led the study.

In our observations, we pointed a blurry, veteran, uncomfortable telescope into one of the most populated parts of the sky, where there are already thousands of glowing stars of varying brightness and thousands of asteroids hovering in our field.

We’re trying to extract the tiny, unique glows caused by planets from this mess, and we only have one chance to catch a signal before it disappears. It’s the same challenge as trying to see a single flash of a firefly in the middle of the highway using just a cell phone.

The Kepler Space Telescope was never designed to do this job. The primary task of this telescope is to look for other planets by watching the shadows created by the planets as they pass in front of their stars.