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Free-Floating Planets and Stellar Clusters

Scientists have been looking for planets in strange places, far from their parent stars, within some of the densest star clusters in the Galaxy

Jarrod Hurley, Michael Shara

For centuries a planet has been defined as an object that orbits a star. This notion was recently upended when several groups of astronomers reported the discovery of planet-sized objects wandering through space on their own, with no parent star in sight. The discovery of these objects within dense stellar clusters has unsettled the astronomical community and raised questions about the nature of planets and how they might form. Jarrod R. Hurley and Michael M. Shara review these recent discoveries and consider how the dynamic interactions between the stars in a dense stellar cluster may free planets from the gravitational bondage of their parent stars.


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