The Spitzer Space Telescope of NASA teamed up with a telescope on ground and has found a remote gas planet. The planet is 13,000 light years away, and has been categorized as one of the most distant planet known to us.
The discovery does nothing short of proving that the telescope has the capability to solve a puzzling, which has rendered our scientists puzzled since a long time. It can show the distribution pattern of our Milky Way Galaxy. It is yet not known if the planets are heavily concentrated in the central hub, or is it spread throughout the galaxy randomly.
According to Jennifer Yee, a NASA Sagan fellow from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), this is exactly why the findings are so important.
The Spitzer Space Telescope had collaborated with the Poland based Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE). It’s Warsaw Telescope at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile continuously for planets using a method called as microlensing. This is an event, which occurs when a star happens to pass in front of another. The star’s gravity then acts as a lens to magnify and brighten an even distant star’s light.
Astronomers are capitalizing on the new technology to find planets, which are up to 27,000 light years away towards the central bulge of our galaxy. This is where the star crossings are more common. Our solar system is located farther away from the center (about two-third distance). The farthest planet found using this technology was about 25,000 light years away from us.
According Andrew Gould from The Ohio State University, Columbus, Microlensing experiments have already detected planets, which are from the center of our galaxy. Microlensing has teamed up with other tools, such as NASA’s Kepler to find many distant planets till now.
However, Microlensing faces a key disadvantage. The technique cannot always help us to calculate the precise distance to the stars and the planets being observed. Also, while the passing star may magnify the starlight from a much distant star, it is rarely seen itself. This makes it even more hard to find out the exact distance between the planet and us.