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.
A new study published today in the journal Current Biology suggests that star-shaped brain cells known as astrocytes could be as important to the regulation of sleep as neurons, the brain’s nerve cells.
Led by researchers at Washington State University’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, the study builds new momentum toward ultimately solving the mystery of why we sleep and how sleep works in the brain. The discovery may also set the stage for potential future treatment strategies for sleep disorders and neurological diseases and other conditions associated with troubled sleep, such as PTSD, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and autism spectrum disorder.
“What we know about sleep has been based largely on neurons,” said lead author and postdoctoral research associate Ashley Ingiosi. Neurons, she explained, communicate through electrical signals that can be readily captured through electroencephalography (EEG). Astrocytes — a type of glial (or “glue”) cell that interacts with neurons