For the first time, astronomers have found an assortment of planets in another galaxy, beyond our Milky Way. Up to this moment, scientists didn’t have proof of planets existing apart from our galaxy.
The recent discovery of the planets set stations them in another galaxy, 3.8 billion light-years away.
This leading-edge revelation wouldn’t have appeared if it wasn’t aided by a special technique called microlensing.
Namely, this revolutionary method made it possible for the astrophysicists to detect astronomical objects in galaxies that are too distant to be inspected straightly.
Scientists indicated that this discovery points out there are around 2,000 planets, different in size, from the Moon to Jupiter.
Up to January 2018, experts identified over and above 3,500 planets outside our solar system.
Foregoing this discovery, astronomers didn’t have evidence that other planets existed in another galaxy. It was hard finding proof due to the enormous distances.
As a matter of fact, it’s even hard to achieve finding planets in our Milky Way.
The remotest planets located within the Milky Way are SWEEPS-04 and SWEEPS-11, two strange worlds placed about 27,000 light-years from Earth. Interestingly, this is just about a quarter of the width of the Milky Way.
The microlensing technique uses the benefits of contortions of light from a background source like a magnifying glass to see a distant object.
Thus, with the employment of this method, the astronomers detected the family of planets inside another galaxy.
Huge objects, like the black holes, strictly bend the space-time material so much, it makes it curve any light passing through it.
“We are very excited about this discovery. This is the first time anyone has discovered planets outside our galaxy,” said Xinyu Dai, a professor in the Homer L. Dodge Department of Physics and Astronomy, OU College of Arts and Sciences.
“These small planets are the best candidate for the signature we observed in this study using the microlensing technique. We analyzed the high frequency of the signature by modeling the data to determine the mass,” he added.
The OU postdoctoral research Eduardo Guerras said that this discovery only proves how powerful the microlensing technique can be.
In addition, he added this galaxy locates 3.8 billion light-years away hence it’s impossible to observe the planets directly. Not even the best telescope can such performance.
“However, we are able to study them, unveil their presence and even have an idea of their masses. This is very cool science,” said Guerras.
Researchers used NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory to achieve the discovery. Furthermore, they published it in The Astrophysical Journal.