November 28, 2021

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Scientists claim to have discovered the first planet outside the Milky Way

Scientists claim to have discovered the first planet outside the Milky Way

Astronomers may have discovered the first planet discovered in another galaxy. The potential star, called M51-ULS-1b, orbits a “giant” and dead star in the Whirlpool Galaxy, about 28 million light-years from Earth (one light year equals 9,46 trillion kilometers).

If the existence of the planet is confirmed, the planet’s existence indicates that many “extragalactic exoplanets” could still be discovered by astronomers, according to a study published in the scientific journal. natural astronomy.

“We’ve probably always thought that there are planets in other galaxies,” astrophysicist Roseanne Di Stefano, a researcher at the University of Cambridge, said in an interview published on the website. science news. “But actually finding something beautiful is a lesson in humility.”

More than 4,800 planets have been discovered orbiting stars other than the Sun, but they are all part of the Milky Way. On the other hand, there is no reason to believe that there are no planets outside of it, as the scientific media highlights.

Unfortunately, “catching” planets from other galaxies is hampered by distance, as stars end up appearing very close to each other making individual observations difficult to identify the planets around.

In 2018, Di Stefano and astrophysicist Nia Imara, part of the University of California research body, suggested that the search for these planets could be done by identifying “X-ray binaries,” a class of binary stars.

These pairs usually consist of a large star and the remains of another large star that has “collapsed” into a black hole or neutron star. The dead star “steals” material from the living organism and heats it up, reaching temperatures so high that it emits very bright X-rays, and stands out from the rest of the stars.

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The region that emits these rays may be smaller than a giant planet, so if any existing planet passes or passes in front of this binary system, changing the perspective of astronomers observing from Earth, it can block the X-rays, “surrendering” their presence.

Although Di Stefano’s team tech worked on the first observation, it suggests they don’t expect to see M51-ULS-1b again, as it could be decades before it passes in front of the host stars again. “The real test is finding more planets,” the astrophysicist concludes in a statement to Science News.