Extrasolar planet List of extrasolar planets
An artist's conception of the planet
Parent star
Star OGLE-2005-BLG-390L
Constellation Scorpius
Right ascension (α) 17h 54m 19.2s
Declination (δ) -30° 22′ 38″
Apparent magnitude (mV) 15.7
Distance 21,500 ±3300 ly
(6,600 ±1,000 pc)
Spectral type M4
Observed separation
Projected separation (d) 2.6 AU
closest approach
(t0) 2,453,582.73 ± 0.005 JD
Angle of source motion (α) 157.9 ± 0.2°
Physical characteristics
Mass (m) 0.018 MJ
(5.5 M)
Temperature (T) ~50 K
Discovery information
Discovery date 25 January 2006
Discoverer(s) PLANET/RoboNet,
Detection method Gravitational microlensing
Discovery site  Chile
Discovery status Published
Other designations
EWS 2005-BUL-390Lb, EWS 2005-BLG-390Lb
Database references
Extrasolar Planets

OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb is a 'super-Earth' extrasolar planet orbiting the star OGLE-2005-BLG-390L, which is situated 21,500 ± 3,300 light years away from Earth, near the center of the Milky Way galaxy. On January 25, 2006, Probing Lensing Anomalies NETwork/Robotic Telescope Network (PLANET/Robonet), Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE), and Microlensing Observations in Astrophysics (MOA) made a joint announcement of the discovery. The planet does not appear to meet conditions presumed necessary to support life.[1]


Physical characteristics

OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb orbits around its star at an average distance of 2.0 to 4.1 AU, or an orbit that would fall between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter in our own solar system. (This range of distances is the range of error in measurement and calculation; it does not represent the planet's orbital eccentricity, as its orbital elements are not known.) Until this discovery, no small exoplanet had been found farther than 0.15 AUs from a main sequence star. The planet takes approximately 10 Earth years to orbit its star, OGLE-2005-BLG-390L.[2] OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb's sun (located in the constellation Scorpius, RA 17:54:19.2, Dec −30°22′38″, J2000, 6.6 ± 1.0 kpc distance)[2] is thought to likely be a cool red dwarf (95% probability), or a white dwarf (4% probability), with a very slight chance that it is a neutron star or black hole (<1% probability). Regardless of the star's classification, its radiant energy output would be significantly less than that of the Sun.

OGLE-2005-BLG-390L's location in the night sky

The planet is estimated to be about five times Earth's mass (5.5+5.5
ME). Some astronomers have speculated that it may have a rocky core like Earth, with a thin atmosphere. Its distance from the star, and the star's relatively low temperature, means that the planet's likely surface temperature is around 50 K (−220 °C; −370 °F). If it is a rocky world, this temperature would make it likely that the surface would be made of frozen volatiles, substances which would be liquids or gases on Earth: water, ammonia, methane and nitrogen would all be frozen solid. If it is not a rocky planet, it would more closely resemble an icy gas planet like Uranus, although much smaller.[3]

The planet is not so much notable for its size, or possible composition — although these are unusual — but for the fact that such a relatively small exoplanet was detected at such a relatively large distance from its star. Prior to this, "small" exoplanets, such as Gliese 876 d which has a "year" of less than 2 Earth-days, were detected very close to their stars. OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb shows a combination of size and orbit which would not make it out of place in Earth's own solar system.

"The team has discovered the most Earthlike planet yet," said Michael Turner,[4] assistant director for the mathematical and physical sciences directorate at the National Science Foundation, which supported the work. At 5.5 Earth masses, the planet is less massive than the previous candidate for lowest-mass extrasolar planet around a main sequence star, the 7.5 Earth mass Gliese 876 d. Although Earth-sized or smaller planets have been detected, as of January 2006, they have only been found orbiting millisecond pulsars like PSR B1257+12.


An illustration of gravitational microlensing. Light from a distant star is bent due to the gravitational field of an intervening foreground star and its orbiting planet, resulting in at least three (unresolved) distorted images. The change of their solid angle subtained on the sky corresponds to an observable brightening of the observed source star.

OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb's signature was first detected on August 10, 2005 by observations at the Danish 1.54-m telescope at ESO La Silla Observatory in Chile. The telescope was part of a network of telescopes used by the PLANET/RoboNet gravitational microlensing campaign. Much of the follow-up observational data was gathered by a 0.6-m telescope at the Perth Observatory in Western Australia.

Gravitational lensing occurs when light from a distant star is bent and magnified by the gravitational field of a foreground star. A gravitational microlensing event occurs when a planet accompanying this foreground star can cause an additional small increase in the intensity of magnified light as it passes between the background star and the observer as well.

The PLANET/RoboNet campaign regularly investigates promising microlensing event alerts that are issued by the Polish OGLE or the Japanese-New Zealand MOA survey.[5] The observation of just such an event led to the discovery of OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb. OGLE detected the microlensing effect produced by the star OGLE-2005-BLG-390L, and it was the PLANET team's follow up observations and analysis which uncovered evidence of the planet itself.

The PLANET team conducted close observation of the OGLE-2005-BLG-390 microlensing event over a period of about two weeks. During this series of observations, a 15% "spike" in intensity occurred, lasting approximately 12 hours. From the intensity of the increase, and its length, the PLANET astronomers were able to derive the planet's mass, and its approximate displacement from the star.[1]

The paper submitted to Nature bears the names of all members of PLANET, RoboNet, OGLE, and MOA.

See also


  1. ^ a b PLANET collaboration (2006-01-26). "Discovery of OGLE 2005-BLG-390Lb, the first cool rocky/icy exoplanet". http://planet.iap.fr/OB05390.news.html. Retrieved 2006-06-11. 
  2. ^ a b Beaulieu et al.; Bennett, DP; Fouqué, P; Williams, A; Dominik, M; Jørgensen, UG; Kubas, D; Cassan, A et al. (January 2006). "Discovery of a cool planet of 5.5 Earth masses through gravitational microlensing". Nature 439 (7075): 437–440. arXiv:astro-ph/0601563. Bibcode 2006Natur.439..437B. doi:10.1038/nature04441. PMID 16437108. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v439/n7075/full/nature04441.html. 
  3. ^ "Discovery of OGLE 2005-BLG-390Lb, the first cool rocky/icy exoplanet". 25 January 2006. http://planet.iap.fr/OB05390.news.html. .
  4. ^ Henderson, Mark (2006-01-25). "Freezing cold Earth-like planet is discovered". Times Online. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-2009914,00.html. 
  5. ^ Dominik, M.; et al. (2002). "The PLANET microlensing follow-up network: results and prospects for the detection of extra-solar planets". Planetary and Space Science 50 (3): 299–307. Bibcode 2002P&SS...50..299D. doi:10.1016/S0032-0633(01)00126-X. 

External links




Coordinates: Sky map 17h 54m 19s, −30° 22′ 38″

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