By now, experts have confirmed the existence of over 3,500 planets that are located outside our Solar System. It’s interesting that this number continuously grows as more and more exoplanets are discovered. Recently, astrophysicists from the University of Oklahoma have confirmed that planets are very common across the entire universe, not only in our neighborhood. It’s worth noting that experts have caught glimpses of planets beyond the Milky Way, but they have not managed to actually confirm their existence. Back in 2010, scientists stumbled upon a planet called HIP 13044 b about 2,000 light-years away from our own.
Originally, the teams believed that this planet was originally from another galaxy and that the Milky Way swallowed it at one point. However, studies on it revealed no clue that this planet existed at all. The idea is that the detection of exoplanets is an incredibly difficult task. In out galaxy, the farthest planets are about 27,000 light-years away. This is only a quarter of Milky Way’s width. Usually, experts find such planets through the “transit method”. Telescopes look for dips in the stars’ brightness because they indicate if a planet has passed between them and the Earth.
Finding exoplanets is no easy task
So, experts used a technique known as gravitational lensing. Huge objects like galaxies of black holes are able to bend light when it passes by. Scientists use these objects as “lenses” to study other very distant stars. Then there is microlensing, which is the same technique but in reverse. It uses a background light to study the object used as “lens”.
This is how experts managed to find about 2,000 objects. According to Xinyu Dai, lead researcher on the study, recently published by Astrophysical Journal Letters, this is an incredible discovery. It is actually the frit time that planets have been discovered outside our Solar System.
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