The European Space Agency’s LISA mission initially wanted to study merging supermassive black holes. However, it might have just discovered hundreds of worlds around some white dwarf stars
More than 4000 exoplanets are orbiting other stars. Astronomers have suspected that these worlds are ubiquitous. They estimated that every star in the Milky Way must have at least one companion out there. However, even though exoplanets seem to be pretty much everywhere, that’s not the truth. The majority of the exoplanets have stuck to either stars that are neighboring the sun, or further away, in the center of the Milky Way.
If we are, to be honest, no one knows the true number of planets in the Milky Way, or how many planets actually exist in all the other galaxies.
It will all start with 2034
As per a study published on the 8th of July, the first major step in finding out how many exoplanets are there might begin in 2034. That’s when the European Space Agency’s LISA mission will start. LISA means Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, and it gives us a hint about the aim of the mission. Their main goal is to find ripples in spacetime – gravitational waves. They want to do it by looking for small changes in the distance between three satellites that are placed in a triangular constellation. Their sides have 2.5 million kilometers in length.
LISA will be custom-built to match the gravitational waves from merging supermassive black holes. However, it will be able to also listen to the gravitational waves from some of the exoplanets, as well.
The co-author of this study, Nicola Tamanini, has explained that LISA could probe for many planets in certain types of the binary star systems. Also, in theory, LISA should allow all of us to see how many planets there are in the entire Milky Way, in the Andromeda galaxy, and in the Magellanic Clouds if all the conditions are optimal.
Meagan Kozlovs is a reporter for Debate Report. She’s worked and interned at Global News Toronto and CHECX. Megan is based in Toronto and covers issues affecting her city. In addition to her severe milk shake addiction, she’s a Netflix enthusiast, a red wine drinker, and a voracious reader.