Why NASA’s discovery of a distant exoplanet is important

Astronomers have found an exoplanet nearly 13,000 light-years away, making it one of the most distant planets known to man. This discovery is important not because of the planet itself, a gas giant about half the size of Jupiter, but because what it means for the future of planetary discovery and mapping.

The project was a joint effort between NASA’s Spitzer space telescope and Polish Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE) ground telescope at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile.

Astronomers working on the project exploited a phenomenon known as microlensing, which occurs when one star passes in front of another and the closer star’s gravity acts as a magnifying glass and bends the light of the more distant star, causing it to appear brighter. If that nearer star is orbited by a planet it will cause a disturbance in the magnified light. READ MORE.