Researchers discover first possible planet outside Milky Way

Veja a Nasa
Artistic concept 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 to be seen outside our galaxy, they say Folha de S.Paulo . in Salvador Nogueira.

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Planets outside the Milky Way?

The discovered star will be similar in size to Saturn, and will be a resident of galaxy M51, located 23 million light-years from here, close to the northern constellation Ursa Major in the sky. And until then, let’s agree, nothing strange. The strange thing is what object that planet will orbit. We are talking about a binary X-ray.

It is a double star, one of which has already erupted and become one of two possible stellar corpses: a black hole or a neutron star.

By gravity, this dead star is swallowing matter from its still-living neighbor, and in the process, generating a disk of gas and dust around it. Spiraling towards the denser object, this material becomes a powerful X-ray emitter.

Researchers led by Rosanne Di Stefano of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics thought it would be quite possible that there are planets around these stars, since planets around neutron stars have been found in our Milky Way. (By the way, the first exoplanet detected in the history of astronomy, in 1992, orbited one of these stellar corpses, not a star in its active phase like the Sun.)

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Following their reasoning, they assumed that some of these systems would be so aligned that the planet would overtake the compact X-ray-emitting star, temporarily blocking the flow.

Such transits can be detected as “blinking” in X-rays, even over large distances, such as those of other galaxies.

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About the author: Raven Weber

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