Scientists have used gravitational lensing to detect a so-called ‘rogue planet’ that doesn’t orbit a star and floats freely in space.
The planet is relatively small, but researchers can’t tell for certain how far away it is from Earth.
It’s possible that the Milky Way is home to trillions of these free planets.
We think of our solar system as typical, or even “normal,” but in the universe, there’s really no such thing as normal. So many circumstances exist with regard to planets, stars, moons, and other objects that there’s no clear arrangement that the cosmos favors over any other, and there are even free-floating “rogue planets” that have escaped the systems they developed in and are just sort of doing their own thing.
Hybrid systems of floating solar panels and hydropower plants may hold the technical potential to produce a significant portion of the electricity generated annually across the globe, according to an analysis by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
The researchers estimate that adding floating solar panels to bodies of water that are already home to hydropower stations could produce as much as 7.6 terawatts of potential power a year from the solar PV systems alone, or about 10,600 terawatt-hours of potential annual generation. Those figures do not include the amount generated from hydropower.
For comparison, global final electricity consumption was just over 22,300 terawatt-hours in 2018, the most recent year for which statistics are available, according to the International Energy Agency.
“This is really optimistic,” said Nathan Lee, a researcher with NREL’s Integrated Decision Support group and lead author of a new paper published