For the first time in humans’ history several planets outside our galaxy, the Milky Way, have recently been discovered by a team of astrophysicists at the University of Oklahoma in the United States.
Scientists used the theory of gravitational microlensing which is an astronomical phenomenon and, at the same time, the only method that is known to date to allow the discovery of planets distant from the Earth.
Xinyu Dai, professor at the Department of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Oklahoma, Homer L. Dodge of University of Oklahoma’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and Eduardo Guerras, who is doing doctoral studies at the same university, made this finding using the data collected by the NASA’ Chandra X-ray Observatory (a satellite launched by NASA on July 23, 1999) while they were studying a 6 billion light-years away quasar.
The data collected during the quasar study presented an odd energy shift in the quasar’s light which can only be explained by the existence of planets in the galaxy where the quasar is found.
The astronomers depicted 2,000 planets which have dimensions that range from the diameter of the Moon to that of the planet Jupiter, according to a press release issued by the University of Oklahoma.
The galaxy that holds these planets is 3.8 billion light-years away and there is absolutely no chance to observe the newly discovered planets directly.
“We are very excited about this discovery. These small planets are the best candidates for the odd light signatures data we have seen during this study using gravitational microlensing method,” said Professor Xinyu Dai.
According to the University of Oklahoma, until this study there was no concrete evidence of the existence of planets in other galaxies, therefore, the discovery of these planets from outside our galaxy means a lot for the astronomers from around the world and leads us to believe that, most definitely, we are not alone in the Universe.