Researchers have discovered the first possible planet outside the Milky Way

Veja a Nasa
Artistic depiction of an exoplanet orbiting an X-ray binary, as the discovered extragalactic candidate. (credit: NASA)

An international group of astronomers has discovered what may be the first exoplanet observed outside our galaxy, he says Salvador Nogueira in Folha de S.Paulo.

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A planet outside the Milky Way?

The discovered star will be similar in size to the planet Saturn, and will be residing in the galaxy M51, which is located 23 million light-years from here, near in the sky from the northern constellation Ursa Major. And until then, let’s agree, nothing strange. The strange thing is the thing this planet revolves around. We are talking about a binary X-ray.

It’s a double star, one of which has already exploded and become one of two possible stellar bodies: a black hole or a neutron star.

By gravity, this dead star swallows matter from its still-living neighbor and, in the process, generates a disk of gas and dust around it. By spiraling towards the compressed object, this material becomes a powerful X-ray emitter.

Researchers led by Rosanne Di Stefano of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics thought it was entirely possible that planets existed around these stars, since planets around neutron stars have been found in our Milky Way. (By the way, the first discovered exoplanets in the history of astronomy, in 1992, orbited one of these stellar bodies, and not a star in its active phase, like the Sun).

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After their reasoning, they hypothesized that some of these systems would be aligned so that the planet would pass in front of the compressed X-ray emitting star, temporarily blocking the flow.

Such transits can be detected as “flashes” in X-rays, even at enormous distances, such as those that separate other galaxies.

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About the Author: Osmond Blake

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