Gravitational microlensing helps astroboffins spot planets 3.8 BEELLION light-years away
The Kepler Space Telescope has found oodles of exoplants, but now astroboffins have spotted the first exoplanets outside our galaxy.
A group of astroboffins from the University of Oklahoma has become the first to demonstrate exoplanet observations in another galaxy – one that's 3.8 billion light years away, or one-third of the distance across the observable universe.
The discovery by a team led by professor Xinyu Dai and postdoc Eduardo Guerras, found the planets' signatures in the spectrum of a gravitationally-microlensed galaxy behind the black hole quasar RXJ 1131−1231.
Gravitational microlensing refers to the phenomenon, predicted by Einstein, that gravity can bend light, resulting in an apparent magnification if the bodies are aligned the right way (from the point of view of the observer).
As the university explains, they believe the planets range in estimated mass from about the size of the moon, through to Jupiter-sized.