In the busy urban neighborhoods of the Milky Way, large planets can be flung far from their parent stars.
Big worlds distort space-time…
… and when one passes between us and a star in the background, that star’s light may appear momentarily brightened.
This effect – predicted by Einstein – is called gravitational micro-lensing.
It splits, warps and reverses the star’s image.
The length of time astronomers see this distortion gives a rough measure of the planet’s mass.
Observers have spotted 10 of these wandering Super-Jupiters, which were likely ejected from their star systems soon after they formed.
This process apparently doesn’t happen out here in the galactic rural vicinity of our Sun. So, no worries about the imaginary planet Nibiru.
For SPACE.com, I’m Dave Brody.
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Free-floating Jupiter size planets are fairly common. Astronomers use a neat trick of Einstein’s math to find them. And, no, there aren’t any free-range monster-worlds lurking nearby.