Nomad Planets of the Milky way Galaxy

Many planets making their way through the cosmic void may be orphans.  They do not seem to be attached to any identifiable parent star, which is odd when one considers the accepted wisdom for the formation of planets.  Are there stars that have formed planets and lost one or more of them somehow?  How many orphans – nomads – are there in the Milky Way Galaxy?

New study finds many more free-roaming planets

“100,000 times more “nomad planets” in the Milky Way than stars.”  The norm of planetary formation involves the accretion of materials circling a coalescing star for hundreds of millions of years.  Those systems discovered thus far by space telescopes and powerful ground-based instruments have contained mainly a few gas giants, and any rocky planets – similar to Earth – have been few in number.  To discover so many more free-roaming bodies requires consideration of other methods of forming them if, in fact, they cannot be explained simply by assuming cataclysmic expulsion from existing star systems.

Brown dwarf stepping-stones

Some researchers are hopeful that some interstellar planets might serve another purpose.  While there are likely to be many star bodies that failed to reach critical mass for ignition as stars, scientists hope that some of the wanderers prove useful.  In the event that a rocky planet with a stable and relatively safe surface is found, could space travelers use such bodies as resting (and perhaps refueling) stations during trips to other star systems?

“Perhaps the majority of planets actually roam through interstellar space with no star to call ‘home’ and brown dwarfs, far from being failed stars, could become starship rest stops.”  Such a question requires a leap of faith in humankind’s capacity to build such ships, and the ability of their crews to take advantage of an opportunity to stop at multiple deep-space objects.  While it is not out of the question, it presupposes that scientific discovery will eventually encompass advanced technology equal to the task of making Earth’s inhabitants spacefarers.

Possibilities multiply for finding life

If observations with planned instruments demonstrate that researcher’s findings are indeed accurate, there is an increased chance that some of the millions of then-available worlds might have microbial life.  There is a chance with every large body that some sort of heat, whether tectonically or radioactively produced, has nurtured microscopic life that survives in whatever atmosphere the planet carries with it.

Nomad planets seem to be quite numerous in the Milky Way Galaxy.  Finding them and identifying them could lead to ways in which humankind will begin to use them.  Reaching ever farther into space with measuring devices turns out to be a useful pursuit, and scientists continue to discover how the universe functions and what fascinating processes residents of tiny, out-of-the-way Earth might one day drive.