Published: Wed, February 07, 2018
Research | By Clarence Powell

Study gives first evidence of planets beyond the confines of Milky Way

Study gives first evidence of planets beyond the confines of Milky Way

The university claimed that there has been no evidence of planets in other galaxies until this study.

The incredible breakthrough was made possible using a technique known as microlensing, which allowed researchers to spot objects in extragalactic galaxies that are too far to be observed directly.

They found planets as small as the moon and as large as Jupiter sitting outside of our galaxy.

Until now, scientists haven't detected any planets outside of our own Milky Way Galaxy - it's simply been too hard to discern such small things from so far away.

Microlensing is an astronomical phenomenon that uses the light bent by gravity itself to detect planets. He explained that they analysed the high frequency of the signature by modelling the data. This technique, which uses high-powered microlensing, has been responsible for the detection of 53 planets in the Milky Way but this is the first time it's been able to locate planets outside of it.

We tend to assume that other galaxies have planets - after all, why should the Milky Way be unique? - but this could be the first, albeit indirect, evidence for these distant worlds. The team then applied a formula to the data they gathered and determined that the only explanation for the particular energy signatures they were seeing was the presence of thousands of planets.

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An exoplanet is one which orbits a star outside of our solar system.

Dai worked with Postdoctoral Researcher Eduardo Guerras for the study.

Because of this innovative study, scientists now have the option to look outside our galaxy for answers to these fundamental questions and more. Few of the planets even have earth like features and astrophysicists are helpful that life can sustain there. "This microlensing is amplifying something that is very small and changing colors, which makes no sense, or it is amplifying a small region of a bigger object, and that object has different colours", Guerras said. But they were still able to use their calculations to estimate the number of planets and masses.

This technique was used to detect exoplanets in the Milky Way.

Study leader Dai tells Zachos that based on their calculations, there are about 2,000 of these planets for every star beyond our galaxy, which means the lens galaxy could be home to more than a trillion planets.

"We won't have a chance to observe the exomoon candidate again", stated lead author David Bennett of the University of Notre Dame, in a 2014 statement.

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