More than five thousand alien worlds, five thousand and five worlds to be exact. It’s the latest official tally of confirmed planets outside the solar system, which make up other worlds orbiting distant suns. [النجوم هي شموس، وهنالك أنواع كثيرة منها]
They are Earth-like space worlds, Jupiter-like planets, and exotic and nightmarish worlds that defy the imagination. Their wide diversity and large numbers confirm that planets are a common feature in the universe, and are not rare to exist. Scientists believe that the galaxy to which our planet belongs (the Milky Way) may host in all hundreds of billions of extrasolar planets. Thus, it is possible that some of those billions of alien worlds harbor life forms.
Last Monday, the number of confirmed planets stationed outside the solar system became five thousand, after the latest group of 65 planets located outside the solar system was added to the archive of the US space agency “NASA” for those space worlds.
In fact, we are not about “just a number. Each planet in the discovered group represents a new world, and a completely new planet,” according to Jesse Christiansen, the scientific officer in charge of the archives of exoplanets and one of the scientists at the “NASA Institute for Exoplanet Sciences” in “ Caltech, expressing her enthusiasm “for every one of these planets because we don’t know anything about them yet.”
The discovery of the first confirmed planets stationed outside the solar system dates back to 1992, when they were observed in a place other than where they were supposed to be, as they were orbiting a type of neutron stars, which are celestial bodies that represent the dense remnants of the collapse of a giant star, and they pulse with strong flashes of radiation. . It was then that Alexander Volstan, one of the astronomers behind the discovery and a professor at Penn State University, soon realized that such a discovery implied that there were more planets outside the solar system waiting to be found.
In a statement he made in this regard, Volchtan noted that “finding planets around a neutron star necessarily indicates that planets are almost everywhere. The process of planet production must be very powerful throughout the universe.”
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As a reminder, the discovery, in which Dr. Volstein participated, and other first discoveries of extrasolar planets, was made by astronomers observing distant stars in order to observe the “oscillation”. [في ضوء النجم/ الشمس الذي يدور الكوكب حوله] Which represents a function signal, as it is produced by the gravitational pull of the planets revolving around it. [يحدث التذبذب لأن الكوكب أو الكواكب التي تدور حول نجم ما، تؤثر في حركتها على الضوء الذي يأتي إلينا من النجم/ الشمس الذي يدور الكوكب/الكواكب حوله].
The discovery of planets outside the solar system really took off with the advent of the astronomical transit method, as astronomers use space telescopes to monitor the brightness of the stars over a period of time. This was the search method for exoplanets adopted by NASA’s now-defunct Kepler space telescope, which has discovered more than 2,600 exoplanets in the period between its launch in 2009 and its layoffs in 2018.
When Kepler was launched, the total of those extrasolar worlds known to scientists did not exceed a thousand planets.
However, the five thousand planets that have been in the NASA archives since last Monday as extraterrestrial worlds, will likely continue to increase at a steady pace as astronomers use more modern tools and methods to discover these distant worlds and investigate their secrets.
NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS for short, has monitored more than 2,000 planets outside the solar system since its launch in 2018. It is expected that more of these worlds will be discovered. With the agency’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, scheduled to launch in 2027, as well as “Infrared Remote Sensing for Exoplanet Atmosphere Detection”, or “Ariel” for short, for the European Space Agency, which is expected to be launched in 2029.
By extension, the James Webb Space Telescope, which is already in outer space and is undergoing the final stages of tests and calibrations before embarking on its scientific mission this summer, will work on bringing the picture of the very many worlds discovered by other telescopes. Using its powerful optical and infrared devices, Webb will help scientists measure and decipher the atmospheres of planets far outside the solar system, and find out which of them may be suitable for life forms as we know them, or perhaps even harbor living forms.
In Dr. Folstein’s view, it seems “inevitable that we will find some form of life somewhere, and it will most likely be a primitive form.”
Posted in The Independent on March 23, 2022
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