The universe is huge and there are many things we don’t know about it.
Astronomers are therefore immensely delighted when they find a new planet or star.
So far, about five thousand planets have been discovered outside our solar system, but they were all located in our galaxy. This means that they are up to three thousand light years away from us.
A possible new planet has been discovered in a neighbouring galaxy 28 million light-years away.
»About 80 percent of the confirmed planets outside our solar system have been discovered by the method of observing the passage of the planet across the surface of a star. The planet orbiting the star temporarily partially obscures it, with telescopes we then detect the darkening of the star,« explains Dr. Dunja Fabjan from the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics.
»Now, for the first time, they have observed a temporary decrease in the amount of X-rays emanating from a smaller area of this particular binary star.«
When observing planets outside our galaxy by perceiving visible light, they cannot distinguish individual stars because they are all so bright.
»Stars that emit X-rays are rarer, so they are easier to observe,« adds Dunja Fabjan. »If they emit strong enough waves, they become a good target for finding planets around them.«
Scientists have not yet been able to confirm that this is indeed the first planet outside our galaxy.
They would need more data to be better convinced, but they will not be able to make new measurements for a long time, as the planet will need seventy years to make a shadow on its star again.
X-rays are a type of radiation called electromagnetic waves. Because they have higher energy, they can travel longer distances than visible light. They are emitted by some stars, and on Earth we create them artificially.
Points To Consider
- What is a light year?
- What is the name of our galaxy?
- Which planet is Saturn?
The original version of this article was published on October 28th.