The Chandra X-Ray Orbiting Telescope has detected signs that could lead to the discovery of the first planet outside the Milky Way, which contains the Solar System besides Earth, a team of astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge said. (USA) on Monday.
To date, about 5,000 have been discovered. The so-called exoplanets, or planets orbiting a star other than the Sun, are all found in our Milky Way galaxy.
But for the first time, signs of a planet have emerged in another galaxy, in this case Messier 51, about 28 million light-years away from Earth.
As team member Dr. Roseanne Di Stefano said, the discovery was made in the same way used to search for exoplanets in our galaxy. It includes the analysis of periodic decreases in the brightness of a star due to the so-called transit, that is, the passage of a planet orbiting a star in its background.
The so-called binary system in this galaxy is called M51-ULS-1. It consists of a very bright neutron star, or the so-called black hole, and a smaller hole orbiting around it, the matter of which is absorbed by a larger and stronger companion by gravity.
By examining the X-rays emitted by this system, which were recorded by an orbiting telescope, scientists detected characteristic periodic dips in radiation almost to zero, which could indicate a massive object orbiting the system, Di Stefano said.
Scientists estimate that a hypothetical planet should be about the size of Jupiter or Saturn, the two largest planets in our system, orbiting about as far from the center of the system as these planets are from the Sun.
The astronomers emphasized that this was just their interpretation and that further observations were needed to verify this. (PAP)
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