A few days, scientists may have made one of the greatest discoveries in astronomy. They discovered what looked like another planet that was seen outside our galaxy. The discovery was made on Monday, 25 October 2021, by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. The discovered planet was on the spiral galaxy called Messier 51, commonly referred to as M51. It would be the first planet to be seen in another galaxy. The Earth belongs to the Milky Way galaxy, which hosts about 100 to 400 billion planets. Earth is in the solar system together with seven other planets.
This is a one-of-a-kind discovery as most of the exoplanets found outside our solar system are still within the Milky Way. These planets are often less than 3000 light-years from Earth. Exoplanets are those planets outside our solar system. The newly found planet in the Whirlpool galaxy or M51 is 28 million light-years far away from our planet. This makes it very impossible to go there. The furthest NASA has managed to get astronauts to be mars. Before we get to the new planet, we should have covered most planets on the solar system and within our galaxy.
We don't know much about the planet, but it is as big as Saturn is. The planet orbits around its star in an elliptical manner also. It's orbiting from a position that doubles that from Saturn to the sun. The method used to discover this exoplanet has been successfully used to discover more than 4000 planets, all of which are in the Milky Way. However, the planet is 28 million light-years away from Earth. We are considering that it takes 37,000 human years to cover one light year. It, therefore, means that the planet is too far away beyond our reach.
Rosanne Di Stefano was in charge of the entire study. He is a lecturer and astronomy instructor at Harvard's Astrophysics department and Smithsonian in Cambridge, MA. Rosanne stated that they are trying to open up a new platform for searching for other planets.
Astronauts are using X-Ray wavelengths to discover new planets in their different galaxies. These planet candidates will then be verified to confirm if they fit to be referred to as planets.
When you use an X-Ray binary and search for the dips in the X-Rays' brightness, you can observe a neutral star can be noted or a black hole that is pulling gas from stars that are orbiting close to it. The X-Rays are created in a small region. This ensures that any planet passing through it is easy to notice and spot. The moving planet would block most if not all the X-Rays. This technology assists in spotting exoplanets from such large distances away from the Earth.
This discovery will, however, have to wait longer to be confirmed. Planets revolve around there our bits and might take so many days and years to complete one cycle. Earth takes one year to make a revolution. Scientists will have to wait for 70 years so as to see the exoplanet from another galaxy. This is the main setback of this discovery. It is, however, difficult to tell when to look and after how long. The 70 years is just an estimated time. However, I am sure that by 2071 technology would have evolved, and astronomy would have seen very many inventions that will assist it in its work. It would be a sign of relief to see the exoplanet after the stipulated period.
If it is confirmed decades later that what we saw earlier this week was a new planet on another planet, then we will have questions to ask ourselves. Some of the questions will be like how it survived the supernova explosion. This is because it is this explosion that created the neutron star or the black hole. We are also not sure whether before then the companion star could explode. This explosion would, in turn, blast the planet again due to the high levels of radiation. The fact that it survived one explosion does not assure us that it might survive another explosion that might occur.
Astronauts and researchers will have to dig deep into their archives to complete this puzzle. There are databases of about 20 different galaxies which have to be looked into deeply. They will do these from Chandra and European Space Agency Satellite.
Bottom line, we might have discovered a new planet but we still have to wait a little bit longer to confirm it’s indeed an exoplanet. Discovering a new planet in a different galaxy is one of the greatest discoveries by humanity in the world of astronomy. It shows many more planets outside our galaxy which astronauts and researchers will be keen to discover.