If it is already difficult to find new worlds in the Milky Way itself, which is supposed to contain billions of them, imagine the challenge of attesting to the existence of others outside it?
Current detection methods, however advanced, face several obstacles in this endeavor, but scientists at the American observatory Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have released a novelty that represents an advance in the area. They claim to have observed what may be the first specimen of confirmed type in history and have named it M51-ULS-1b. The celestial body is quite a candidate for the post.
In an article published last Friday (18), the researchers explained that they used a different approach in their studies, focused on bright X-ray sources. According to the team, the M51-ULS-1b produces a complete and short duration, orbiting a binary system from the M51 galaxy, which is just over 28 million light years from Earth, called M51-ULS-1, composed of a neutron star (or black hole) and a massive one.
“The method could be used to search for more planets in other galaxies and even those that orbit other stars that are part of ours,” they explain. As for the finding, astronomer Angelle Tanner, from Mississippi State University, who was not part of the analysis , celebrates with his feet on the ground: “It’s incredible, but not unexpected”.
Unfortunately, decades may pass before the hypothesis is confirmed, since it is necessary to observe it again, which depends directly on the time it takes to return to the position in which it was seen. Considering that the distance between him and his stars is similar to that between Saturn and the Sun (and, in this case, it requires 29.5 terrestrial years for a complete turn), well, it is better to wait seated.
In the worst case scenario, it is not exactly an exoplanet belonging to the binary system, and it will never be seen again. Even with this possible bucket of cold water, there is no room for discouragement: “It was no coincidence that we reached this result. We only achieved it because we were just looking for something that way,” said the team.
“Our research will lead to more detailed studies of planets and other objects in outer galaxies, and extending it will expand the scope of what we can say about our place in the universe.”