NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory has spotted evidence of a possible planet located in another galaxy – a one-of-a-kind find if it turns out to be true.
NASA detailed the discovery of the evidence in a new report on its website where it states that the possible exoplanet is located in the spiral galaxy Messier 51, also known as the Whirlpool galaxy. Exoplanets are planets located outside of our solar system, and according to NASA, researchers have located “almost all within 3,000 light years of EarthThe possible exoplanet located in the Whirlpool galaxy is about 28 million light years from Earth.
Researchers uncovered evidence for the possible exoplanet using the transit method, which is an event that occurs when a planet passes in front of a star, causing observers to notice a significant drop in light from the star that it produces. This method of hunting for exoplanets is commonly used by astronomers in the frequency of optical light, the frequency of light that humans can see. However, Rosanne Di Stefano of the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which led the study on the newly discovered evidence, used wavelengths of x-rays, which are not visible to the human eye.
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Using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, researchers discovered that the exoplanet is located in a binary system containing a black hole or neutron star orbiting a star of about 20 times the mass of the Sun. From these observations, the researchers estimated that the exoplanet would be roughly the same size as Saturn and orbit the black hole or neutron star about twice the distance between Saturn and the Sun.
University of California, Santa Cruz co-author Nia Imara said: “Unfortunately, to confirm that we are seeing a planet, we will likely have to wait decades to see another transit. And due to uncertainties over how long it takes to orbit, we wouldn’t know exactly when to look.“
Co-author Julia Berndtsson of Princeton University in New Jersey added: “We know we are making an exciting and bold claim, so we expect other astronomers to examine it very carefully. We think we have a strong case, and this process is how science works.“
More research is needed to confirm the researchers’ claims. For more information on this story, check out this link here.