Giant Exoplanet Discovered 13,000 Light-Years Away Is Among The Most Distant Ever Seen

exoplanet milky way

A newly discovered alien planet is one of the most distant yet spotted.

Known formally as “OGLE-2014-BLG-0124Lb,” the gas giant was detected by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and the OGLE Warsaw Telescope at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. It’s about half as massive as Jupiter and is about 13,000 light-years from Earth.

That’s far.

“For context, most of the planets we do know about are a factor of 10-100 times closer than OGLE-2014-BLG-0124,” Dr. Jennifer Yee, a NASA Sagan Fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., and lead author of a paper describing the planet, told The Huffington Post in an email.

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This artist’s conception shows the newly discovered alien planet, which is about 13,000 light-years from Earth.

A distant world. Astronomers discovered the planet by exploiting a curious phenomenon known as “microlensing,” in which gravity from one star shifts the light emitted by a more distant one — like a sort of cosmic magnifying glass.

If a planet is orbiting the nearer star, it can cause a “blip” in the magnification. Astronomers can use
This infographic explains how NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope can be used in tandem with a ground-based telescope to measure the distances to planets using the “microlensing” technique. Click on image to enlarge.

“The OGLE-2014-BLG-0124L discovery is important because it is the first time Spitzer has been used to measure microlens parallax for a planet,” Yee said in the email.

Far, far away. The microlensing technique has helped astronomers discover about 30 distant alien planets in our Milky Way’s bulge, the galaxy’s central area of mostly old stars, gas, and dust.

The farthest known exoplanet resides some 25,000 light years away in the bulge of our galaxy, Yee said in the email. The bulge is —> Read More