This is the first time anything has been found past the Milky Way, 3.8 billion light years away.
Frequent readers know that there have been ample reasons to watch the skies in recent months. Almost every day we find another story about something perplexing happening right over our heads, and it seems that science has done it again.
Fox News has confirmed that for the first time in history, “scientists have discovered planets in galaxies beyond the Milky Way.” This may turn out to be the most significant scientific discovery of 2018 even though the year is new.
NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory has produced data which has led “a team of astrophysicists from the University of Oklahoma identified the extragalactic planets about 3.8 billion light-years away.” Over 2,000 objects have been found, ranging in size from our rather tiny moon to the giant Jupiter.
One light year equals six trillion miles, so we are talking quite a jaunt, to say the least. To have any idea about these distant worlds, the “gravitational signature” of the planets was measured as a body orbits their star and this technique is called “microlensing”
“We are very excited about this discovery. This is the first time anyone has discovered planets outside our galaxy,” admitted Oklahoma University professor Xinyu Dai.
His statement also said, “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.”
The research can be seen as “The Astrophysical Journal Letters.” As he speaks of it, Guerras praises microlensing. “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.”
Yes, these objects are so very far that he feels that even a science fiction script would be stretched too far if a telescope was to “see” them.
He added, “However, we are able to study them, unveil their presence and even have an idea of their masses. This is very cool science.”
Who knows just what astounding things we may uncover with this new “cool science?”
As other areas of physics work out a way to warp space in order to allow us to someday entertain thoughts about traveling to such planets (also currently science fiction), we can only keep looking upwards in awe.