When you gaze up into the night sky, you might actually be looking at a whole lot of ‘ploonets’, scientists have revealed.
In other solar systems, some moons may escape their planets, and start orbiting their stars, just like planets, researchers have said.
Scientists have come up with the superb word ‘ploonets’ to describe such moons, and hope that they may be detectable with current telescopes.
The researchers believe that the moons may be ‘ejected’ from their orbits around ‘hot Jupiters’ - vast planets which sit close to their stars, bathed in the intense heat.
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‘Hot Jupiters’ begin further out, and are pulled inwards by gravity - during which time the intense gravitational forces could eject their moons, turning them into ‘ploonets’.
Mario Sucerquia of the University of Antioquia in Medellín, Colombia said, ‘This process should happen in every planetary system composed of a giant planet in a very close-in orbit.
‘So ploonets should be very frequent.’
Sucerquia and his team believe that ‘ploonets’ could explain the strange ‘dimming’ of other stars already detected by telescopes on Earth.