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Planets Beyond Milky Way Galaxy Discovered For First Time

The planet population, ranging from the size of the Moon to the size of Jupiter, were spotted in a galaxy located 3.8 billion light-years away, according to the study published in The Astrophysical Journal

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Until this study, there has been no evidence of planets in other galaxies. Wikimedia Commons
Until this study, there has been no evidence of planets in other galaxies. Wikimedia Commons
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A team of scientists from the University of Oklahoma has discovered for the first time a population of planets beyond the Milky Way galaxy.

The planet population, ranging from the size of the Moon to the size of Jupiter, were spotted in a galaxy located 3.8 billion light-years away, according to the study published in The Astrophysical Journal.

For the discovery, the team used a technique called microlensing — a method capable of discovering planets at truly great distances from the Earth.

“We are very excited about this discovery. This is the first time anyone has discovered planets outside our galaxy,” said Professor Xinyu Dai.

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“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,” Dai said.

The researchers made the discovery with data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, a telescope in space that is controlled by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. Wikimedia Commons
The researchers made the discovery with data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, a telescope in space that is controlled by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. Wikimedia Commons

While planets are often discovered within the Milky Way using microlensing, the gravitational effect of even small objects can create high magnification leading to a signature that can be modeled and explained in extragalactic galaxies.

But until this study, there has been no evidence of planets in other galaxies.

ALSO READ: Astronomers find Evidence for 2 Newborn Planets, orbiting around a Young Star known as HD 163296

“This is an example of how powerful the techniques of analysis of extragalactic microlensing can be,” said postdoctoral researcher Eduardo Guerras.

“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,” Guerras said.

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

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NASA Plans For Science Payloads For Delivery to Moon

NASA believes that the work it does on the Moon in the coming years would help it send a series of crewed missions to Mars, scheduled to start in the 2030s

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NASA calls for science payloads for delivery to Moon. Pixabay

In line with its plan to conduct more research on the Moon’s surface ahead of a human return, NASA has issued a call for science instruments and technology payloads that will fly on commercial lunar landers as early as next year or 2020.

This call is specifically geared towards small payloads that can be ready for early commercial flights, NASA said in a statement on Thursday, adding that future calls for lunar payloads will occur at regular intervals for later missions, with the next call released in approximately one year.

The initial proposal deadline is November 19, 2018, the US space agency added.

“We are looking for ways to not only conduct lunar science but to also use the Moon as a science platform to look back at the Earth, observe the Sun, or view the vast Universe,” said Steve Clarke, Deputy Associate Administrator for Exploration in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA.

“In terms of technology, we are interested in those instruments or systems that will help future missions — both human and robotic — explore the Moon and feed forward to future Mars missions,” Clarke added.

On early missions, science instruments will likely gather data related to heat flow within the Moon’s interior, solar wind and atmosphere as well as dust detection.

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The initial proposal deadline is November 19, 2018, the US space agency added. Flickr

Lander payloads could also conduct technology demonstrations, using the Moon as a technology testbed for Mars.

“The strategy is that these early missions will help us prepare for more complex future missions such as searching for usable resources, building up a seismic network to understand the Moon’s internal structure, and studying the lunar mineralogy and chemistry to understand the Moon’s origins,” Clarke said.

The US space agency is implementing a plan for Americans to orbit the Moon starting in 2023, and land astronauts on the surface no later than the late 2020s.

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A key component of establishing the first permanent American presence and infrastructure on and around the Moon is the Gateway, a lunar orbiting platform to host astronauts farther from Earth than ever before.

NASA believes that the work it does on the Moon in the coming years would help it send a series of crewed missions to Mars, scheduled to start in the 2030s. (IANS)