Antonio Manaytay – Fourth Estate Contributor
Norman, OK, United States (4E) – A team of astronomers had discovered a population of planets outside the Milky Way galaxy using microlensing. These planets in extragalactic galaxies have masses ranging from that of the Moon to as big as Jupiter.
“We are very excited about this discovery. This is the first time anyone has discovered planets outside our galaxy,” Xinyu Dai, professor in the Homer L. Dodge Department of Physics and Astronomy at Oklahoma University’s College of Arts and Sciences, said.
Dai, together with Eduardo Guerras, OU postdoctoral researchers, made the discovery using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory using microlensing technique – the only known method of discovering exoplanets located at great distances from the Earth – by analyzing the “high frequency of the signature by modeling the data to determine the mass.”
There have been no planets discovered outside the Milky Way before this study.
“This is an example of how powerful the techniques of analysis of extragalactic microlensing can be,” Guerras said.
The galaxy where these planets populate is about 3.8 billion light-years away making it impossible to observe them directly using even the best telescope ever made.
Guerras, however, said the technique they used enable them to find them.
“We are able to study them, unveil their presence and even have an idea of their masses,” Guerra said.
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