Thursday, February 8, 2018

Planets Discovered Orbiting Star From Another Galaxy

Article Written By: Kyle Tam


 A team of astrophysicists at the University of Oklahoma (OU) has discovered the first planets located beyond the Milky Way Galaxy. Through a technique known as microlensing, the researchers were able to detect the stellar objects, with masses ranging from that of the moon to Jupiter.
  “We are very excited about this discovery. This is the first time anyone has discovered planets outside our galaxy,” said Xinyu Dai, a professor at OU and co-discover. “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 modelling the data to determine the mass.”
 Planets have often been discovered within the Milky Way using microlensing. However in this instance, the gravitational effect of small objects create a high-enough magnification, leading to a signature that could be modelled and explained in extragalactic galaxies.
Image Credit: University of Oklahoma
Image Credit: University of Oklahoma

  “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,” said Eduardo Guerras, an OU postdoctoral researcher. “However, we are able to study them, unveil their presence and even have an idea of their masses. This is very cool science.”
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