• Thursday, Dec 02, 2021
  • Last Update : 12:45 am

'First known exoplanet' spotted in another galaxy

  • Published at 12:09 am October 27th, 2021
Solar system
Representational photo

The possible Saturn-sized planet discovered by Nasa's Chandra X-Ray Telescope is in the Messier 51 galaxy is located some 28 million light-years away from the Milky Way

In a groundbreaking scientific development, astronomers are believed to have found the first known planet in another galaxy-- beyond ours, according to media reports.

he potential world, called M51-ULS-1b, orbits both a massive star and a dead star in the Whirlpool or Messier 51 galaxy, about 28 million light-years from Earth, reports Science News .

The object’s existence, if confirmed, suggests that there could be many other extragalactic exoplanets waiting to be discovered, astronomers report in a study published in Nature Astronomy on October 25.

Nearly 5,000 "exoplanets" - worlds orbiting stars beyond our Sun - have been found so far, but all of these have been located within the Milky Way galaxy, according to BBC.

The possible Saturn-sized planet discovered by Nasa's Chandra X-Ray Telescope is in the Messier 51 galaxy.

“We probably always assumed there would be planets in other galaxies”, said astrophysicist Rosanne Di Stefano of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass. “But to actually find something, it’s a beautiful thing. It’s a humbling experience.”

Exoplanets are defined as planets outside of our Solar System. Until now, astronomers have found all other known exoplanets and exoplanet candidates in the Milky Way galaxy, almost all of them less than about 3,000 light-years from Earth, says Nasa.

“We are trying to open up a whole new arena for finding other worlds by searching for planet candidates at X-ray wavelengths, a strategy that makes it possible to discover them in other galaxies,” said Stefano, who led the study.

There is no reason to think that other galaxies do not also host planets. But the most popular exoplanet hunting techniques are difficult to do with such faraway stars, which blend together too much to observe them one by one.

Despite its distance from the X-ray binary, the planet receives as much energy in X-rays and ultraviolet radiation as a hot Jupiter exoplanet, which orbits its star in just a few days, receives from an ordinary star.

Stefano does not expect to see this particular planet again in her lifetime. It could take decades for it to pass in front of its host stars again. “The real test is finding more planets," she concluded. 

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