Jan 20, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

NASA Spitzer, KMTNet Discovered ‘Iceball’ Planet With Similarities To Earth Through Microlensing

Apr 27, 2017 06:41 PM EDT

NASA scientists had discovered a new planet dubbed as “Iceball” planet. The planet was found out to have similarities with Earth in terms of its mass and that it orbit its star at the same distance the Earth orbits the sun.

According to RD Mag, the “Iceball” planet is called OGLE-2016-BLG-1195Lb. Yossi Shvartzvald, a NASA postdoctoral fellow based at the space agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California stated that the planet is the “lowest-mass planet ever” found through microlensing.

Microlensing is identified to be the technique that researchers use to identify far away objects that use background stars as flashlights. As a star passes by the front star’s light, the gravity of the foreground star focuses the light from the background star, making it appear brighter. However, the “Iceball” planet is far from habitable as its star is mentioned to be faint and that it’s much colder that Pluto.

The “Iceball” planet is nearly 13,000 light-years away. It was also noted that it orbits a star so small that scientists weren’t sure whether it is a star. Several theories include that the planet's star is a brown dwarf, which its core couldn’t regenerate enough heat. While another theory said that it may be a dwarf star similar to the TRAPPIST-1.

"Although we only have a handful of planetary systems with well-determined distances that are this far outside our solar system, the lack of Spitzer detections in the bulge suggests that planets may be less common toward the center of our galaxy than in the disk," said Geoff Bryden, astronomer at JPL and co-author of the “Iceball” planet study per NASA.

The study about the “Iceball” planet was published in Astrophysical Journal Letters. Scientists mentioned that they hope that with the study, they may be able to delve further into the distribution of planets in our galaxy. Determining the difference in the frequency of planets in the Milky Way's central bulge compared to its disk was also mentioned to be expected from the study.

The findings of the “Iceball” planet were made possible through the researchers' use of the Korea Microlensing Telescope Network (KMTNet), operated by the Korea Astronomy and the Spitzer Space Telescope. The study was initiated by the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE) survey, managed by the University of Warsaw in Poland.

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