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Evidence of extragalactic planets discovered

Posted on Thursday, 8 February, 2018 | Comment icon 3 comments

It is now believed that planets are common throughout the universe. Image Credit: NASA/CXC/M. Weiss
Scientists have used microlensing to discover planets in a galaxy over 3.8 billion light years away.
While thousands of extrasolar worlds have so far been discovered within our own galaxy, spotting them outside of the Milky Way has long proven a challenge due to the extreme distances involved.

Now though, researchers at the University of Oklahoma have found evidence of up to 2,000 planets situated in a galaxy a whopping 3.8 billion light years away from the Earth.

Their observations relied on a phenomenon known as "quasar microlensing" which causes particularly massive objects in space (such as galaxies) to act like a lens - magnifying whatever is behind them.

By taking advantage of this effect, the researchers were able to use one distant galaxy to take a much closer look at another galaxy directly behind it - enabling them to detect tiny irregularities indicative of rogue planets ( i.e. planets that are not orbiting stars ).

"This is an example of how powerful the techniques of analysis of extragalactic microlensing can be," said postdoctoral researcher Eduardo Guerras.

"This galaxy is located 3.8 billion light years away, and 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."

"However, we are able to study them, unveil their presence and even have an idea of their masses."

"This is very cool science."

Source: Gizmodo | Comments (3)

Tags: Extragalactic, Planets

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Noxasa on 8 February, 2018, 13:49
Will be interesting to see if critical peer review confirms it.  Although intra-galaxy micro-lensing has been needed to find candidate rogue planets in our own galaxy it seems remarkable that that same approach could be used to detect inter-galaxy rogue planets through one galaxy into an even more distant galaxy.  It is fascinating to think it could work at that scale, but I wonder.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Tatetopa on 11 February, 2018, 19:03
That is pretty amazing.  Hopefully it will be validated.   I flash back to Carl Sagan saying "Billions and billions", of galaxies, of planets.  Shame on me, I didn't know anything was going on at the University of Oklahoma.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Tom the Photon on 11 February, 2018, 20:24
Sorry guys and gals - this one's b-s-.   NASA have confirmed 3605 exoplanets (as of 1st Feb), the most distant of which is 8500 pc (28 000 light-years).  If these preposterous claims are to be believed they have suddenly increased the maximum range by 13.5 million %. Off the top of my head I can dream up a dozen credible explanations for the observed aberrations.  And yes - I DO understand the science of gravitational lensing, but I also understand its limits.  

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