In a very distant galaxy, a huge planet can orbit a binary star system. If this planet were real, it would be the farthest we’ve ever seen – the first planet found in another galaxy.
A team of scientists says they have spotted what could be the first known exoplanet in a completely different galaxy.
It could be the beginning of the discovery of a new world
There could be billions of exoplanets in our own galaxy, but finding new worlds even in the next galaxies is much more difficult. Now, with evidence that an object the size of a planet orbits a binary system in the Whirlpool galaxy, New Scientist reports that a team of Harvard-Smithsonian scientists could have finally made a remarkable discovery.
Over the years, several scientists have found signs of exoplanets in other galaxies, but none have ever been confirmed. The same is true for this potential exoplanet, accordingly research distributed online last week. But still, scientists are cautiously optimistic.
“It’s interesting, but not unexpected,” Angelle Tanner, an astronomer at Mississippi State University who did not work on the study, told New Scientist. “There is absolutely no reason to believe that there would be no planets in other galaxies,” she added.
Unfortunately, any confirmation could be decades away, New Scientist reports. The team found evidence that an object the size of Saturn – potentially a gas giant in itself – passed in front of one of the stars in its binary system. But because it also orbits at about the same distance as Saturn from our Sun, it could be decades before it does so again, at which point scientists could confirm the discovery.
“It could be something that just passed in front of this system, never to return,” Tanner said.