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Astronomers have discovered the largest group of rogue planets - they fly freely in the Milky Way

 Astronomers have discovered the largest group of so-called "rogue planets" - freely moving planets that do not revolve around the stars, but float freely in the depths of space. The group of about 70 such celestial bodies seen in our Milky Way galaxy is the largest ever discovered.

Image source: ESO / N. Risinger (skysurvey.org)

Located in the constellations of Scorpio and Ophiuchus, the rogue planets were discovered using a set of telescopes, some on Earth and some in space. In general, rogue planets are difficult to photograph because they are not close enough to the stars, which reduces their visibility. However, astronomers from the University of Vienna in Austria and the French Laboratory of Astrophysics Bordeaux have managed to detect faint heat signatures emanating from gas planets that have formed over the past several million years. This became possible thanks to the analysis of data collected over the past 20 years.

Astronomers note that this is only a small part of such planets. It is estimated that there are several billion of them in the Milky Way. The discovery is a step towards figuring out how these mysterious objects form in space, according to a press release from the European Southern Observatory. It is possible that rogue planets formed around the stars and then were "expelled" from their solar systems. Alternatively, they could have formed from collapsing clouds of gas too small to give rise to a new star.

Astronomers say they are currently awaiting the completion of the Extremely Large Telescope, a giant observatory that will play a crucial role in finding more information about the "rogue planets." It should begin its work at the end of this decade.

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