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Searching for Far Out and Wandering Worlds

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As an exoplanet passes in front of a more distant star, its gravity causes the trajectory of the starlight to bend, and in some cases, results in a brief brightening of the background star as seen by a telescope. The artistic animation illustrates this effect. This phenomenon of gravitational microlensing enables scientists to search for exoplanets that are too distant and dark to detect any other way.

Credit: NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle

Astronomers have made great strides in discovering planets outside of our solar system, termed "exoplanets."

From Jet Propulsion Laboratory/NASA
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