NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has spotted evidence of a possible planet located in another galaxy - a first-of-its-kind discovery if proven true.
NASA has 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, which is also referred to as the Whirlpool Galaxy. Exoplanets are planets located outside of our Solar System, and according to NASA, researchers have located "almost all of them less than about 3,000 light-years from Earth". The possible exoplanet located in the Whirlpool Galaxy is around 28 million light-years away from Earth.
The researchers discovered the 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 observes to notice a significant drop in the star's light its producing. This method of exoplanet hunting is commonly used by astronomers in the optical light frequency, the frequency of light humans can see in. However, Rosanne Di Stefano of the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led the study on the newly discovered evidence, used X-rays wavelengths, which aren't visible to the human eye.
Using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, the researchers found that the exoplanet is located in a binary system that contains a black hole or a neutron star that's orbiting a star that is around 20 times the mass of the Sun. From these observations, the researchers estimated that the exoplanet would be about the same size as Saturn and would be orbiting the black hole or neutron star at about twice the distance between Saturn from the Sun.
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."
Co-author Julia Berndtsson of Princeton University in New Jersey added, "We know we are making an exciting and bold claim so we expect that other astronomers will look at it very carefully. We think we have a strong argument, and this process is how science works."
More research is needed to confirm the claims made by the researchers. For more information on this story, check out this link here.
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