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NASA finds potential new planet 28million lightyears away from Milky Way galaxy
October 28, 2021
Nasa scientists have found what might be a new planet outside of our galaxy for the first time ever.
The freshly discovered exoplanet, called M51-ULS-1b, can be found in the Whirlpool galaxy, which is a neighbour to our own, the Milky Way.
It orbits two stars — one is a massive star that is eight times bigger than our sun, while the other is a dead star.
It may be a while before humans are able to visit, however, as it is located a whopping 28 million lightyears away from Earth.
Because it is located outside of our solar system, M51-ULS-1b is officially classed as an 'exoplanet'. There is estimated to be about 4,800 exoplanets in the Milky Way, but none have ever been found in another galaxy.
It was discovered by Nasa’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, which picks up patterns from far-off objects in space. The telescope orbits Earth, as most X-rays are absorbed by our planet's atmosphere.
Harvard-Smithsonian Center astrophysicist Rosanne Di Stefano, who led the study that located the potential planet, said: “We are trying to open up a whole new arena for finding other worlds by searching for planet candidates at X-ray wavelengths, a strategy that makes it possible to discover them in other galaxies”.
Celebrating the find, she added: “We probably always assumed there would be planets [in other galaxies]”
“But to actually find something, it’s a beautiful thing. It’s a humbling experience”
Ms Di Stefano and her team pored through possible 2,624 pieces of data to find the possible planet, with every other entry returning no results.
Scientists will have to wait a long time before they can say whether it is a planet for certain.
Co-author Nia Imara of the University of California at Santa Cruz. said: “Unfortunately to confirm that we’re seeing a planet we would likely have to wait decades to see another transit.
“And because of the uncertainties about how long it takes to orbit, we wouldn’t know exactly when to look.”
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