Well, at least there’s this.
- Thenoic Acid
- 2-Methoxynaphthalene-1-carboxylic acid
If you’re curious how these images are formed, you can click here. It introduces the petrographic microscope, a very detailed microscope that uses light polarization to determine the composition of any chemical substance. Mostly used by geologists to determine rock or mineral structure.
A strange lonely planet found without a star
An international team of astronomers has discovered an exotic young planet that is not orbiting a star. This free-floating planet, dubbed PSO J318.5-22, is just 80 light-years away from Earth and has a mass only six times that of Jupiter. The planet formed a mere 12 million years ago, a newborn in planet lifetimes.
"We have never before seen an object free-floating in space that that looks like this. It has all the characteristics of young planets found around other stars, but it is drifting out there all alone," explained team leader Dr. Michael Liu of the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. “I had often wondered if such solitary objects exist, and now we know they do.”
The discovery paper of PSO J318.5-22 is being published by Astrophysical Journal Letters and is available at http://arxiv.org/abs/1310.0457.
Image: Artist’s conception of PSO J318.5-22. Credit: MPIA/V. Ch. Quetz
I don’t know if that quote was taken out of context… but we’ve known that free-floating planet-sized objects exist for some time now. This isn’t even the very first to be directly imaged (Zapatero 2000). This earlier paper discovered a few planet-sized objects between 5 and 15 Jupiter masses.
10 additional candidate free-floaters were detected in 2011, though they were not imaged and can’t easily be double checked. These 10 were seen via gravitational microlensing. A planet is drifting through space. It just happens to pass directly in front of a star, from our perspective. The planet’s mass acts to bend light around it; the planet acts like a lens and focuses additional light from the background star. The background star gets brighter for a short period of time. The change in brightness and the length of time the star gets brighter can tell us something about the mass of the objects.
It is also worth noting that the mass determined by imaging (and subsequent spectra) or based off of models. We do not have very good models of the atmospheres of these objects. We do not know the precise numbers nor whether all of these objects formed around a bigger star or if they formed by themselves. There is a lot we do not know, so any additional discoveries are important. Just not revolutionary. Not yet.