Until less than three decades ago, scientists weren’t completely sure that planets could exist beyond our own solar system. But in the present, humanity knows about 4,000 of them. While the next step should be to find life forms elsewhere in the Universe besides Earth, according to many astronomers, science is now discovering another interesting thing.
Thanks to Rosanne Di Stefano from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and her colleagues, a candidate planet is located in the M51 Whirlpool Galaxy.
23 million light-years away from Earth
This is the insane amount of space you need to travel if you want one hundred percent proof that the planet is real. The location exists near the constellation of Ursa Major. The hypothetical object was named M51-ULS-1b, and it’s about the same size as Saturn while it’s orbiting a binary system at a distance of ten times Earth’s distance from the Sun.
Therefore, the ultimate question arises: why the astronomers are only hoping that they’ve found a planet in another galaxy? While galaxies are too far away for the scientists to be able to directly observe an exoplanet into one of these majestic structures, they’ve done something else to find the potential planet. The host binary system of the hypothetical object consists of a neutron star or black hole that is devouring a massive nearby star at a fast pace. Thus, huge amounts of energy are being released, making the system a bright source of X-rays.
The source of the X-rays, whether a black hole or neutron star, is pretty tiny. A reasonable explanation would be that a Saturn-sized planet is eclipsing the X-ray source. The Chandra X-ray Observatory was the lucky one spotting the sign. Furthermore, M51-ULS-1b cannot be a star or white dwarf because the binary system is way too young for that kind of space object to evolve nearby.
Scientst Rosanne Di Stefano said:
The archives contain enough data to conduct surveys comparable to ours more than ten times over,
We therefore anticipate the discovery of more than a dozen additional extragalactic candidate planets in wide orbits.
There you have it, just in case you wanted another reason to believe that other galaxies are teeming with exoplanets.
We’re eagerly waiting for new updates to arrive on the M51-ULS-1b subject.