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The Morning Brew: OU astrophysicists make planetary discovery

Planets discovered beyond milky way 

Planets visible beyond the Milky Way using microlensing. (University of Oklahoma)
Planets visible beyond the Milky Way using microlensing. (University of Oklahoma)

SpaceX made news Tuesday with its breathtaking liftoff and vertical landings of rocket boosters, but some University of Oklahoma astrophysicists made some news of their own earlier this month with the discovery of planets beyond the Milky Way galaxy.  

A University of Oklahoma astrophysics team has discovered for the first time a population of planets beyond the Milky Way galaxy. 

Using microlensing--an astronomical phenomenon and the only known method capable of discovering planets at truly great distances from the Earth among other detection techniques--OU researchers were able to detect objects in extragalactic galaxies that range from the mass of the Moon to the mass of Jupiter.

Xinyu Dai, professor in the Homer L. Dodge Department of Physics and Astronomy, OU College of Arts and Sciences, with OU postdoctoral researcher Eduardo Guerras, made the discovery with data from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Chandra X-ray Observatory, a telescope in space that is controlled by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.

"We are very excited about this discovery. This is the first time anyone has discovered planets outside our galaxy," said Dai. "These small planets are the best candidate for the signature we observed in this study using the microlensing technique. We analyzed the high frequency of the signature by modeling the data to determine the mass."

More here.


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Matt Patterson

Matt Patterson has been with The Oklahoman since 2006. Prior to joining the news staff in 2010, Patterson worked in The Oklahoman's sports department for five years. He previously worked at The Lawton Constitution and The Edmond Sun.... Read more ›