Researchers from Tel Aviv University in Israel have recently discovered two new giant planets in a remote corner of the Milky Way galaxy. Both the planets are similar in size to Jupiter, which is the largest planet in our solar system, boasting a size twice as large as all the other planets in the system combined.
The researchers managed to discover the two new planets via their Gaia spacecraft, which was designed specifically as a star-surveying satellite in order to accurately map the Milk Way galaxy. The spacecraft can also measure the brightness of stars, as well as their location. This is particularly useful to researchers as it helps them to gather information about the physical characteristics of stars and celestial bodies surrounding them. However, it is this special ability that allowed the researchers at Tel Aviv University to discover the two new stars. They noticed changes in brightness of the two remote stars.
Aviad Panahi, one of the researchers explained: "The planets were discovered thanks to the fact that they partially hide their suns every time they complete an orbit, and thus cause a cyclical drop in the intensity of the light reaching us from that distant sun."
In order to confirm their findings, the researchers used the Large Binocular Telescope in Arizona to track small fluctuations the movement of stars, which is usually caused by the presence of an orbiting planet.
The two new planets have been named Gaia-1b and Gaia-2b, and are located so close to their suns that they complete an orbit in less than four days. This is the equivalent to one earth year equaling 90 years on Gaia-1b and Gaia-2b. In addition to being so close to their stuns, the two planets are estimated to have temperatures that reach 1,000 degrees Celcius.
However, the Gaia spacecraft isn't the only satellite that is set to discover new planets. NASA's Roman Telescope is predicted to find over 100,000 new planets, which is a staggering amount. There is hope that the telescope will also help scientists to answer many burning questions about the evolution of the universe.