Astronomers used NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory to probe for planets in a galaxy a little closer to us - roughly 3.8 billion light-years away - using microlensing from the quasar. Scientists have already discovered planets in different galaxies, such as those in our neighboring galaxy Andromeda, but this is the first time that they have discovered planets in a galaxy 3.8 billion light years away.
They found planets as small as the moon and as large as Jupiter sitting outside of our galaxy.
Xinyu Dai, professor in the Homer L. Dodge Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Oklahoma College of Arts and Sciences, said: "We are very excited about this discovery. This is the first time anyone has discovered planets outside our galaxy", said Dai.
Microlensing is a technique that allows researchers to fund any astronomical objects in the foreground, so that the light from background objects will bend.
The new discovery has given some significant information about our solar system by extending the limitation of previously formed data on the Universe. What's that? Well, according to Einstein's theory of General Relativity, really massive things, like galaxies, stars, and even planets warp the shape of space itself. The image isn't necessarily perfectly clear, but you can see a lot further using this technique than would otherwise be possible.
Even though the team did not observe the planets directly, they were able to confirm their presence due to the way gravity was bending light around them. "This is very cool science", he added.
'This is an example of how powerful the techniques of analysis of extragalactic microlensing can be, ' said postdoctoral researcher Eduardo Guerras.
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. In their new paper, the researchers demonstrated that a population of rogue planets (i.e. planets not orbiting stars) in RXJ1131-1231 could account for the lensing at the smallest scale.
The researchers are hoping that with the publication of their study, other scientists will pick up the data and develop another technique to verify whether or not these extragalactic planets exist. But they were still able to use their calculations to estimate the number of planets and masses.