Wednesday March 20, 2019
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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)

Next Story

NASA’s Future Scientists Would Likely Be Better Equipped To Study The Lunar Material

"By studying these precious lunar samples for the first time, a new generation of scientists will help advance our understanding of our lunar neighbor and prepare for the next era of exploration of the moon and beyond."

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Astronaut Harrison H. Schmitt collects lunar rake samples during the Apollo 17 mission, Dec. 13, 1972. VOA

NASA is once again turning its focus to the moon.

Nearly 50 years after the last lunar mission, the U.S. space agency is unsealing some of the samples brought back by Apollo astronauts for study.

The lunar samples were collected by astronauts during the Apollo 15, 16 and 17 missions.

Some of the samples have never been opened, others were resealed in an effort to preserve them.

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“This exploration will bring with it new and unique samples into the best labs right here on Earth.” Pixabay

NASA has picked nine teams of scientists to study the samples. The teams were selected from scientists at the NASA Ames Research Center, the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute, NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center, the University of Arizona, the University of California, Berkeley, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, the University of New Mexico, Mount Holyoke College and the Planetary Science Institute.

NASA
The lunar samples were collected by astronauts during the Apollo 15, 16 and 17 missions. Pixabay

“By studying these precious lunar samples for the first time, a new generation of scientists will help advance our understanding of our lunar neighbor and prepare for the next era of exploration of the moon and beyond,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “This exploration will bring with it new and unique samples into the best labs right here on Earth.”

Also Read: Microsoft Comes Up With Its App That Lets Users Explore Photos By Touch

NASA said its officials in the 1970s had the foresight to know that future scientists would likely be better equipped to study the lunar material. (VOA)