Einstein just helped us find a massive alien world
His theory of relativity taught scientists how to uncover a planet 3 times the size of Jupiter.
Good news for all you astronomy junkies: scientists just discovered an alien planet (granted, every planet other than Earth is an alien planet, but whatever, it sounds cool) three times the size of Jupiter.
The scientists are calling it MOA-2016-BLG-227Lb because scientists are terrible at naming things. We at From the Grapevine are going to call the place Moa.
Researchers from countries around the world, including the U.S., Israel and Japan, teamed up to find Moa. They used a technique called gravitational microlensing, which is basically when scientists spot a planet by noticing the way light bends around it.
We've got our favorite scientist, Albert Einstein, to thank for this particular technique – his General Theory of Relativity explains how stars' gravities can bend light waves. Gravitational microlensing is great for finding stars and planets that aren't all that bright or are really far away. Scientists think the technique can help them figure out how planets form.
So, what's the deal with Moa? The researchers say it's a "super-Jupiter mass planet" circling a star in the "Galactic bulge," a bunch of stars packed together like sardines 21,000 light years away from us. Also, we're now going to have to change Moa's nickname to Super Jupiter because it's too perfect to pass up.
That's not a ton of information – man, would we like some photos, preferably of aliens – but the scientists say they want to study Super Jupiter more, ideally with the Hubble Space Telescope.
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