In a first for science, planets have now been discovered outside the realms of the Milky Way Galaxy. Astrophysicists have now found around 2,000 new extragalactic planets about 3.8 Billion light years away from the earth. This report was published in the Astrophysics Journal where the scientists described how they came across these planets. The planets were found by Xinyu Dai and Eduardo Guerras from the University of Oklahoma.
The scientists used data from NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory where they discovered that these planets vary in mass ranging from the moon to Jupiter. This is an exciting time for science. There had always been a belief that there are planets beyond our galaxy but there was no proof. Till now.
Xinyu Dai and Eduardo Guerras made use of ‘Microscoping’, which is a technique that involves large objects bending and magnifying the lights from larger objects behind them. In the past, Microlensing was used to find planets inside the Milky Way. 53 Exoplanets in the Milky Way have been discovered using this technique. The concept of Microlensing was first predicted in Einstein’s theory of general relativity.
This is the first time that planets have been found beyond the Milky Way. While it is unlikely that we will ever get to see them directly in our lifetime, technologies such as Microlensing can still help us study them!
Praising the Microlensing technique, Guerras commented: “This is an example of how powerful the techniques of analysis of extragalactic microlensing can be. This galaxy is located 3.8 billion light years away, and there is not the slightest chance of observing these planets directly, not even with the best telescope one can imagine in a science fiction scenario. However, we are able to study them, unveil their presence and even have an idea of their masses. This is very cool science.”