A team of astrophysicists from the University of Oklahoma has managed to make a ground-breaking discovery for the times we live in and was able to detect a formation of exoplanets beyond the Milky Way galaxy, through the use of an extraordinary technique known as gravitational lensing.
The team of researchers made the discovery through the use of the Chandra X-ray Observatory, a space telescope owned by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. With the data collected by this telescope, they managed to identify extragalactic bodies, with dimensions ranging from Moon-sized to Jupiter scale.
Considering that this discovery is unprecedented, it comes to prove the high efficiency of the gravitational lensing method, and particularly of extragalactic microlensing. In the world of astrophysics, microlensing is known as the only available method through which planets that are very distant from Earth can be identified and it implies the use of distortions of light that comes from a background source, similar to using a magnifying glass to observe distant objects.
The identified population of planets is located at a 3.8 billion light years distance from our galaxy and without the revolutionary study technique, it would have never been possible for this discovery to be made. So far, researchers have confirmed that there have been approximately 3,500 planets identified so far outside our solar system.
This discovery is even more amazing in the context in which identifying planets within the Milky Way was already extremely challenging. Now, through the use of this revolutionary gravitational lensing method, we have managed to see beyond our galaxy, into the farthest point in which we have seen so far. In 1915, Einstein anticipated the efficiency of the microlensing technique within its General Theory of Relativity, predicting that through this method, astronomers and astrophysicists will be able to observe and analyze objects that radiate very little light.