Published: Wed, February 07, 2018
Science | By Dan Gutierrez

WE ARE NOT ALONE | Planets beyond Milky Way spotted

WE ARE NOT ALONE | Planets beyond Milky Way spotted

Using a technique called "gravitational microlensing" - when a planet passes in front of a star, its gravitational force bends and magnifies the star's light - the team detected planets sitting in a galaxy a stunning 3.8 billion light years away. As MIT Technology Review reported in 2009, Italian researchers investigating stars in the Andromeda galaxy found a star that had some variability in its light-a sign that a planet about six times the size of Jupiter might be orbiting it.

Xinyu Dai, professor in the Homer L. Dodge Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Oklahoma College of Arts and Sciences, said: "We are very excited about this discovery".

Scientists may just have discovered planets beyond the Milky Way galaxy for the first time ever, a new study suggests.

Microlensing is a technique that allows researchers to fund any astronomical objects in the foreground, so that the light from background objects will bend. He explained that they analysed the high frequency of the signature by modelling the data. Using another galaxy about 3.8 billion light years away as the lens, the Chandra Observatory collected four images of J1131's light bending around the gravitational field of the lens galaxy. This, in turn, helps the Astrophysicists to determine the mass of the planet.

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.

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"This is an example of how powerful the techniques of analysis of extragalactic microlensing can be", another co-author and astronomer, Eduardo Guerras, said. The researchers are hoping that other scientists will develop another technique to confirm whether or not these extragalactic planets exist.

All of the exoplanets have been detected around the Milky Way, whose quantity proved that the planets are much common beyond the universe. More specifically, they think that there should be at least 2,000 objects, ranging from moon- to Jupiter-sized, per main-sequence star in the galaxy, based on how the galaxy's gravity warped the objects behind it.

In a university news release, Guerras had a less formal way to describe the complicated process: "This is very cool science".

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

"We won't have a chance to observe the exomoon candidate again", stated lead author David Bennett of the University of Notre Dame, in a 2014 statement.

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