Skip to comments.Free-floating planets in the Milky Way outnumber stars by factors of thousands
Posted on 05/10/2012 10:10:10 AM PDT by LibWhacker
Researchers say life-bearing planets may exist in vast numbers in the space between stars in the Milky Way
A few hundred thousand billion free-floating life-bearing Earth-sized planets may exist in the space between stars in the Milky Way. So argues an international team of scientists led by Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe, Director of the Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology at the University of Buckingham, UK. Their findings are published online in the Springer journal Astrophysics and Space Science.
The scientists have proposed that these life-bearing planets originated in the early Universe within a few million years of the Big Bang, and that they make up most of the so-called missing mass of galaxies. The scientists calculate that such a planetary body would cross the inner solar system every 25 million years on the average and during each transit, zodiacal dust, including a component of the solar systems living cells, becomes implanted at its surface. The free-floating planets would then have the added property of mixing the products of local biological evolution on a galaxy-wide scale.
Since 1995, when the first extrasolar planet was reported, interest in searching for planets has reached a feverish pitch. The 750 or so detections of exoplanets are all of planets orbiting stars, and very few, if any, have been deemed potential candidates for life. The possibility of a much larger number of planets was first suggested in earlier studies where the effects of gravitational lensing of distant quasars by intervening planet-sized bodies were measured. Recently several groups of investigators have suggested that a few billion such objects could exist in the galaxy. Wickramasinghe and team have increased this grand total of planets to a few hundred thousand billion (a few thousand for every Milky Way star) - each one harbouring the legacy of cosmic primordial life.
Yikes! That's almost 200 rogue, planet-sized, planet killers have zipped past us in the last 4.5 billion years.
Speaking of nomads.
A free-floating planet far from a star would have a temperature of 25K, if that. The blackbody temperature would be lower, I’m assuming some warmth from radioactive dacay, assuming the same amount of U and K as here.
I read a paper that discussed tracking long-period or one-time comets back to their origins, and they postulated the passage of a planetary mass that kicked their orbits inward.
Any planet in interstellar space will be a frozen ice ball.
In keeping with the article’s theme of MAY BE... Monkeys may fly out of my ears at any moment.
On a smaller scale, I believe they are called free radicals.
I know that astronomers have discovered some “clumping” in the Ort cloud that may be the result of something large stirring things up.
It 50 years old, I’m not too worried about it.
There is a theory that the moon was formed when a planetoid struck the Earth. Both the Earth and the planetoid disintegrated, and then reformed into two bodies: the current Earth and the Moon.
The Moon is too large of a body for the Earth to have captured via gravity, which gave rise to the collision theory.
The scientists have proposed that these life-bearing planets
Has any evidence been presented at all that they are life-bearing? So far we are 0-for-2 on detection of microscopic life on extraterrestrial bodies (moon and Mars) and zero for a lot more for detection of macroscopic life where we get close enough to various planets and moons to take detailed pictures of them.
originated in the early Universe within a few million years of the Big Bang,
For a planet to be anything other than a gas giant like Jupiter, there have to be elements heavier than hydrogen and helium. I don't know when the first stars when supernova, but the planets would have had to have formed after than to have any chance to have carbon, nitrogen, oxygen or even heavier elements like silicon or iron in them.
and that they make up most of the so-called missing mass of galaxies.
I've seen estimates that up to 90% of the mass is "missing". Since Jupiter is about one one-thousandth of the mass of the sun, that means you would need ten thousand missing Jupiter size planets for every sun sized star to account for the mass this way.
and during each transit, zodiacal dust, including a component of the solar systems living cells,
What living cells? Have we ever found even one extraterrestrial cell? Just one? Then why is it assumed that they exist?
Duh. They all self-sustain heat due to global warming.
Well, they had to put the planet factory somewhere, and The Oort Cloud is a goldmine of 'matter'.
They prepared by driving their SUVs for five billion years to keep their planets warm.
does mitt romney’s planet kolob have a star to orbit around, or is it simply awaiting for mittens to ordained a GOD so that it can revolve around mitt ... in all his glory ? /sarcasm-off with mega hurl aydded for effect ...
“The scientists have proposed that these life-bearing planets originated in the early Universe within a few million years of the Big Bang, and that they make up most of the so-called missing mass of galaxies.”
Goodbye ‘dark matter’, Hello ‘missing mass’.
So... maybe there will be a lot of penguins there. And polar bears.
“Space 1999” called it first.
Each week, our moon went zipping all over the galaxy.
These components would have been sterilized by the solar wind. Any DNA that would have existed in what would have been living cells that may have survived the trip out of the atmosphere would be blasted in to incoherent and inert dust by the solar wind within short period of time unless shielded by being buried very deep inside a very large rock.
Any rock large enough to be shielding for life would be superheated by impacting a wandering planet again destroying that life.
The idea that a wandering lifeless planet could pick up life by drifting by a life bearing planet seems to me pretty far fetched.
Well at least they won’t have to put up with global warming alarmists.
"My God, It's full of planets."
God formed the Earth.... the Moon and the Stars.
BTW, Mars had a close encounter, even bumping knuckles with a planetoid. There was a tremendous electrical exchange (think arc-welder) between the two planets before they bumped, carving the valleys we thought were carved by water, and creating giant lumps with arc marks all around them. When the two actually touched, the Valles Marineris was created.
Our ancestors described the 'war of the Gods' (Mars and something else bumping together) in mythology. That would have been quite a show.
They could harbor microbial life, and perhaps more, in oceans (buried under a thick layer of ice) kept liquid by heat rising up from the planet’s core and tidal heating, if it has a companion. Europa may be just such a world and it’s right here in our own solar system. Of course, there isn’t any evidence that Europa has life on it, but it could conceivably be habitable for the right extremeophile. We can say that about very few bodies in the solar system.
I think that would be Bill and Bernadine.
I think the idea is that , at some point they are bumped out of the 'nest', and take off flying, landing nearby some Star, and produce life because they had good potting soil (minerals, chemicals, etc).
That actually makes sense and I think I recall seeing (maybe on NOVA?) a computer simulation of how such a collision would have played out. Basically, the Earth and Moon are a binary system in a gravitational dance. The other planets with moons are hundreds and thousands of times larger and more massive than their satellites.
The whole “dark matter” issue assumes there is a truly massive volume of matter we can’t see or detect. This is purely to explain anomalies between what our theories of relativity predict and what we observe.
It’s always seemed to me that good science would instead attempt to develop new theories that explain what we can observe, rather than assuming stuff exists that we can’t see.
Shades of the old aether theories.
Without the massive influx of energy at the poles, which we get from a magnetic induction process made possible by the Magnetic field of the Earth and the Magnetic output of the Sun, the core of our planet would grow cold.
Don't tell anyone, but it is changes in the Sun's magnetic field that affect the temperature and therefore movement of magma, movement of the crust, and are the reason the core is hot.
Mars, for example, has no magnetic field, and it's core is cold. As far as we know. There are no volcanoes, active or dead, on Mars.
The article is ludicrous (without further explanation) with respect to life-carrying worlds in interstellar space forming within a short space of time after the Big Bang but I’ve long wondered how much ‘invisible’ material like planets, asteroids and comets spun out of solar systems and failed stars, exists and whether this might account for the missing mass widely attributed to dark matter. For all we know there could be hundreds, even thousands of worlds drifting in deep space for every planet and moon that achieves normalized orbit around a star. There’s speculation that our sun has a smaller twin (Nemesis) that’s presently undetectable to us right here in our own solar system.
I believe there are vastly more large objects in space that didn’t accrete to the size needed to fire up fusion than did. Unless these dark bodies are so close to objects observable from Earth that we can see their gravitational effect, we have no way of knowing they’re there. But they must be. Maybe it’s not the weakly interacting properties of WIMPs that makes them so difficult to detect. Maybe they never existed at all. What if the missing “stuff” is just lots and lots of normal matter we can’t see?
Well, after a 'star' forms, it is surrounded by a cloud of matter. This matter swirls about the Sun, and like the rings of Jupiter, the mass separates into 'rings'. This process is like using a centrifuge. Each ring is composed of certain 'elements' based on possibly 'atomic weight'. The 'clumping' process occurs (the process of attraction) and eventually big balls that collide with other balls. This causes them to be ejected where they might mix with a new ring, or just be cast off to find a comfortable orbit. Basically it ends up being a crap shoot.
Eventually we will figure out that the combinations derived are endless, and that like snowflakes, no two star systems are alike.
Earth is actually 'unique'.
But then, so is every other body in space.
Active - correct. But Olympus Mons is a dead (or dormant) volcano which is three times taller than Mt. Everest.
Or an egg 'sunnyside up'.
“Just what do you think you’re doing, Dave?”
“There are no volcanoes, active or dead, on Mars.”
What? So what do you suggest those mountains on Mars that look exactly like the Earth’s volcanoes are?
Were they some giant martian grade school science project using modelling clay, vinegar and baking soda?
Yeah. Here's an extraterrorist cell.
If primitive life started and got a foothold on a world like Europa, surely we’d see spectra indicating possible waste release of oxygen or carbon dioxide. If Earth is any indication (and it’s all we’ve got by way of illustration), life will adapt and eventually fill every nook and cranny in an environment where it can be sustained.
Could be wrong but I’m of the opinion that life, particularly complex life, is extraordinarily rare even in a universe that is so mind numbingly vast from our perspective. Earth is a Garden of Eden racing through a cosmos almost unimaginably hostile to any form of life that might arise.
“The scientists have proposed that these life-bearing planets”
“Has any evidence been presented at all that they are life-bearing? So far we are 0-for-2 on detection of microscopic life on extraterrestrial bodies (moon and Mars) and zero for a lot more for detection of macroscopic life where we get close enough to various planets and moons to take detailed pictures of them.”
That is somewhat like landing on a beach in the Bahamas, measuring off one square foot of the beach sand, searching for an African elephant in that one square foot of beach sand and finding none, declaring there must be no African elephants in Africa because you have not yet found an elephant in the one sqaure foot of beach sand you searched in the Bahamas!
“originated in the early Universe within a few million years of the Big Bang,”
“For a planet to be anything other than a gas giant like Jupiter, there have to be elements heavier than hydrogen and helium. I don't know when the first stars when supernova, but the planets would have had to have formed after than to have any chance to have carbon, nitrogen, oxygen or even heavier elements like silicon or iron in them.”
The first stars formed very quickly and often with vast supplies of matter to form a great many super-giant and hyper-giant Population I stars. These overly massive stars have correspondingly far shorter life spans and tend to supernova or hypernova in as little as a half-million years to a few million years. The super-massive stars which hypernova in particular catastrophically explode after they begin fusing iron in their cores. So, it is not only likely that a considerable number of rogue planets with heavy elements could have formed so early, it almost a certainty that they did so. Nonetheless, the existence of heavy element enriching novae does not indicate the overall balance of the stellar and planetary bodies were correspondingly rich with heavy elements as today, but does imply they did exist in substantial numbers even in the earliest periods.
“and that they make up most of the so-called missing mass of galaxies.”
“I've seen estimates that up to 90% of the mass is “missing”. Since Jupiter is about one one-thousandth of the mass of the sun, that means you would need ten thousand missing Jupiter size planets for every sun sized star to account for the mass this way.”
Intergalactic space dwarfs intra-galactic spaces, and non-luminous planetary bodies have much greater chances of forming in regions where the density of matter was insufficient to form the mass needed for the formation of luminous stars.
“and during each transit, zodiacal dust, including a component of the solar systems living cells,”
“What living cells? Have we ever found even one extraterrestrial cell? Just one? Then why is it assumed that they exist?”
Organic molecules are found to be present throughout interstellar space, and we know that self-replicating organic molecules have a natural tendency to form within organic rich media. The chances of this common chemical reaction being absent within the trillions upon trillions of planets and planetoid environments appears to be virtually impossible.
I truly doubt that many such rogue planets are still about, at least within the galaxies. Galaxies are dynamic things, with all kinds of tidal forces at several levels.
To start with, why is the vast majority of the Milky Way galaxy spinning in the same direction? And imagine how much force is needed to keep it from flying apart.
Yet things are constantly changing in the galaxy. Sooner or later, over the course of 14.5 billion years, rogues are going to meet up with somebody.
Frozen ice ball planets can harbor life underneath a planetary ice cap 3.3 miles thick in a zone made habitable by the accumulated heat of radioactive decay for periods of 1 billoin to 10 billion years. Chemosyntheitc life forms do not require photosynthesis or a star to provide sunlight.
Microscopic life forms are found viable inside rock miles below the surface of the Earth, glacial ice thousands of years old, in salt rock 90 milloin years old, and on the camera lens of the Surveyor spacecraft on the surface of the moon years before being recovered by the Apollo Lunar explorers.
The by far more numerous population of rogue planets in inter-galactic space would be even far far less at risk of collisions in the vast space outside a galaxy.
What the astronomers are observing now is our galaxy having a speed of rotation in the outer arms which should be causing the stars in the outer arms to escape from the galaxy, but those stars are not doing so. The implicaton is that there is enough hidden mass in the galaxy to keep these stars in their galactic orbits.
I just read something not too long ago about the first stars in the universe. Apparently, there were many truly monster-sized stars that quickly supernovaed and threw out tremendous quantities of heavy elements, from which new generations of stars and planets formed. So there was a greater concentration of the heavier elements in the early universe than one might imagine.
“Any rock large enough to be shielding for life would be superheated by impacting a wandering planet again destroying that life.”
The rock heats on the surface and upper layers while remaining cold in the inner areas. The heat of resulting from friction upon atmospheric reentry most often causes the rock to fracture and breakup during reentry, leaving the cold interior portions of the rock relatively unsscathed and fallin to the surface exposed and relatively undamaged by any heat. In many cases, it is almost as if the process worked as a seeding process.
“So there was a greater concentration of the heavier elements in the early universe than one might imagine.”
Not to mention there was a whole lot less space separating these elements back then so accretion would have happened at a much faster clip than what’s happening today.
Organic molecules are present in comets. They presumably have formed in the cold extremes of space.
Which is just a little bit better science than looking at that same one square foot of sand and declaring that there must be elephants in Africa.
The first stars formed very quickly and often with vast supplies of matter to form a great many super-giant and hyper-giant Population I stars. These overly massive stars have correspondingly far shorter life spans and tend to supernova or hypernova in as little as a half-million years to a few million years.
Thanks. Like I said, I didn't know how long those would take so I didn't know if the original population I stars would have had their first supernovas yet.
. The chances of this common chemical reaction being absent within the trillions upon trillions of planets and planetoid environments appears to be virtually impossible.
There is a huge gap between absent everywhere and present everywhere. The author stated that life would be present everywhere with no evidence.
I had a professor who told his class that you can have one unproven speculation in a paper. If you put in more you might as well be writing a sci fi story. This story had a bunch of those speculations asserted as facts. I'll leave that for Art Bell.
Yes, but while circumgalactic orbit exists, it is far from stable. For example, check out the Spiral pattern rotation period:
A rogue planet would be far more at the mercy of any number of forces than would a solar system of a star. And even a slight vector would over the course of a billion years result in a very unstable body.