Planets Outside Milky Way Discovered for the First Time

07 February, 2018, 02:00 | Author: Lucy Floyd
  • Exoplanets from another galaxy spotted - take that, Kepler fatigue!

Few planets were detected earlier across the Milky Way, while none of them have been confirmed by scientists. But being able to detect them reflects the incredible power of the microlens, not to mention the evidence - even if we knew it - that there are indeed planets in other galaxies.

They found planets as small as the moon and as large as Jupiter sitting outside of our galaxy.

"This discovery, if the interpretation of the data holds up, looks very exciting indeed", Dr. Priyamvada Natarajan, a theoretical astrophysicist at Yale University, told NBC. "This is the first time anyone has discovered planets outside our galaxy", Oklahoma University professor Xinyu Dai said in a news release.

For the purposes of their study, the researchers relied on the gravitational microlens technique, which relies on the gravitational force of distant objects to focus light from a star. "Quasar microlensing provides a means to probe extragalactic planets in the lens galaxy, by studying the microlensing properties of emission close to the event horizon of the supermassive black hole of the background quasar, using the current generation telescopes", the researchers also wrote in their study.

Experts have long known that planets would not be confined to our galaxy, but this is the first time that a celestial body has been discovered outside of the Milky Way.

NASA says that now, by developing gravitational lensing, more exoplanet discoveries will be made within and beyond the Milky Way Galaxy, in the recent future.

The technique has already been used to 53 exoplanets within the Milky Way.

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"This is an example of how powerful the techniques of analysis of extragalactic microlensing can be", said Guerras.

The RX J1131-1231 galaxy (at center) with four quasars lensed around it. Scientists identified evidence of 2,000 planets wandering in this elliptical galaxy.

As it turns out, the galaxy that contains the planet is 3 years apart. "Not even with the best telescope one can imagine in a science fiction scenario", said Guerras in a statement.

"However, we are able to study them, unveil their presence, and even have an idea of their masses", he added.

The researchers are hoping that with the publication of their study, other scientists will pick up the data and develop another technique to verify whether or not these extragalactic planets exist.

"As a planet orbits a star, the gravitational field of the system can bend the light of a distant star behind it", Science Alert reported.



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