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European satellite Gaia may reveal thousands of planets

Gaia, a recently launched European satellite could reveal tens of thousands of new planets, some very unique, within the next few years, shows research.


European satellite Gaia may reveal thousands of planets

New York: Gaia, a recently launched European satellite could reveal tens of thousands of new planets, some very unique, within the next few years, shows research.

These discoveries could provide scientists with a far better understanding of the number, variety and distribution of planets in our galaxy.

It could detect as many as 21,000 exoplanets, or planets outside the Earth's solar system, during its five-year mission, researchers from Princeton University in the US and Lund University in Sweden calculated.

If extended to 10 years, Gaia could detect as many as 70,000 exoplanets, the researchers noted.

The satellite's instruments could reveal objects that are considered rare in the Milky Way, such as an estimated 25 to 50 Jupiter-sized planets that orbit faint, low-mass stars known as red dwarfs.

"It is not just about the numbers. Each of these planets will be conveying some very specific details, and many will be highly interesting in their own way," said first author Michael Perryman, who made the assessment while working at Princeton University.

"If you look at the planets that have been discovered until now, they occupy very specific regions of discovery space. Gaia will not only discover a whole list of planets, but in an area that has not been thoroughly explored so far," Perryman added.

Built and operated by the European Space Agency (ESA) and launched in December 2013, Gaia will capture the motion, physical characteristics and distance from Earth of roughly one billion objects, mostly stars, in the Milky Way galaxy with unprecedented precision.

The study appeared in the Astrophysical Journal.

 

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