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The Coldest Exoplanet Found to Date

2 Dec 2015, 22:00 UTC
The Coldest Exoplanet Found to Date
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When a foreground object passes in front of a background star, the gravitational field of the foreground object can act as a lens, magnifying light from the background star. This phenomenon is known as gravitational microlensing and it can be observed in the form of a light curve. As the foreground object moves into alignment, the brightness of the background star increases and reaches a peak, before decreasing as the foreground object moves out of alignment. If the foreground object is comprised of a star-planet system, the presence of the planet can show up as a “bump” in the light curve.Using the technique of gravitational microlensing, Sumi et al. (2015) present the discovery of the coldest low-mass planet ever found. This planet is identified as MOA-2013-BLG-605Lb. Analysis of the gravitational microlensing light curve reveals three physical solutions. At present, it is impossible to distinguish which physical solution is the more likely one. Regardless, MOA-2013-BLG-605Lb has a mass similar to that of Neptune or a super-Earth. The planet orbits its host star/brown dwarf at a distance that is roughly 9 to 14 times the expected position of the snowline around its host star/brown dwarf. The snowline is basically the distance from ...

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