In an astonishing find, scientists have finally managed to discover planets beyond our Milky Way Galaxy. According to the latest study, more than 2000 planets are revolving in a distant galaxy situated almost 3.8 billion light-years away. The planets were found to be as small as our Earth and as big as the massive Jupiter. Detecting planets beyond the Milky Way galaxy is very difficult. They are so far away that no telescope can observe them. So, for the latest research, scientists used the gravitational lensing technique to look at the distant galaxy and found out that thousands of planets like objects are moving inside the galaxy.
Gravitational lensing or microlensing works on the principle of Einstein’s theory of relativity. Einstein’s theory suggested that light bends under the gravitational force of the Universe. Hence, this time scientists analyzed the light coming from the quasar of the distant galaxy. For that, they used the data collected by NASA’s space-based Chandra X-ray laboratory. They saw that the gravitational force of the distant galaxy bends the light heading towards our Milky Way galaxy thus illuminating the galaxy. As a result, the galaxy gets magnified and its planets are exposed under the X-ray view.
The microlensing technique was initially used to detect planets outside of our solar system. But now, the scientists are pushing the technique beyond our massive Milky Way galaxy and it seems that they are quite successful in applying the technique on faraway galaxies. Xinyu Dai, an astrophysicist and professor at the University of Oklahoma, who led the study, said that Microlensing is probably the only way to identify planets beyond our Solar system. The name the distant galaxy that hosts thousands of planets is RXJ1131−1231. Although it is impossible to detect the planets of 3.8 billion light years far galaxy, still the scientists were able to use their calculations to estimate the number of planets and masses, as reported by Gizmodo.
Dai and his team estimated that the distant galaxy contains 2,000 planets for every star which indicates that the RXJ1131−1231 galaxy might be hosting trillions of planets inside it. Priyamvada Natarajan, a theoretical astrophysicist at Yale University said, “This discovery, if the interpretation of the data holds up, looks very exciting indeed.” The researchers of the study informed that they have not got any exact details of the planets and neither have they named any planets. The latest study was published in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters