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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

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.

ALSO READ: Super-Earth? Planet Hunters Find Another ‘Earthy’ Planet in Our Galactic Neighborhood

“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: Sending Back Astronauts to Moon in 2024 Could Cost About $30 Billion

The entire project will be framed as a practice run for a future mission to Mars

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NASA, mars
NASA, which has dubbed its current lunar programme Artemis (after Apollo's twin sister, the Greek goddess of the hunt, the wilderness and the moon), plans to send one male and one female astronaut to the moon in 2024. VOA

Returning astronauts to the moon in 2024 could cost about $30 billion, or roughly the same price tag as the Apollo 11 spaceflight when factoring in inflation, NASA has said.

“For the whole programme, to get a sustainable presence on the moon, we’re looking at between $20 and $30 billion,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a TV interview on Friday, though noting that that figure does not include money already spent on the rocket and space capsule the agency plans to use for the programme, Efe news reported.

The total cost of the Apollo programme that the US launched in 1961 and concluded in 1972 was $25 billion. The climax of that programme came nearly 50 years ago when two astronauts landed on the moon as part of the Apollo 11 mission, which cost $6 billion at the time, equivalent to $30 billion today.

nasa, moon
Then one male astronaut and – for the first time – a female astronaut would set foot on the lunar surface in 2024. Pixabay

NASA, which has dubbed its current lunar programme Artemis (after Apollo’s twin sister, the Greek goddess of the hunt, the wilderness and the moon), plans to send one male and one female astronaut to the moon in 2024.

Bridenstine recalled that the main difference between the Apollo programme and the Artemis program is that the former culminated with brief stays on the moon while the latter will entail a permanent human presence there.

The plan will involve the recruitment of private companies and international partners, the construction of a lunar space station and manned landings at the moon’s south pole within five years.

NASA, moon
That rocket will send into orbit a new spacecraft known as Orion, whose lead contractor is Lockheed Martin. VOA

The entire project will be framed as a practice run for a future mission to Mars. The programme includes an unmanned mission around the moon in 2020 and a manned mission that also will orbit the moon two years later. Then one male astronaut and – for the first time – a female astronaut would set foot on the lunar surface in 2024.

ALSO READ: NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover, Latest Robotic Mission to Explore Ancient Life on Red Planet

The three lunar missions will be delivered into space by the Space Launch System, a rocket being developed by NASA and Boeing that will be the largest ever built once it is fully assembled. That rocket will send into orbit a new spacecraft known as Orion, whose lead contractor is Lockheed Martin.

Besides these missions exclusively handled by NASA, five other launches will be carried out to place in lunar orbit the components for construction of the Gateway mini-space station, which will serve as a staging post for moon landings. Those five missions between 2022 and 2024 will be operated by private companies, according to NASA’s plans. (IANS)