The first potential exoplanet, or a planet orbiting around a star, has been found outside of the Milky Way, according to ANU astrophysicist and cosmologist Dr Brad Tucker.
“This was in a galaxy called Messier 51, so its 28 million lightyears away so it’s, you know, relatively far even in the scale of astronomy,” he told Sky News Australia.
“Most of the planets that we found, and we’ve talked quite a bit about them, have all been in our own galaxy relatively nearby, all within a few thousand lightyears of Earth.”
Dr Tucker said the Milky Way was approximately 100,000 lightyears across and the galaxy housing the exoplanet is millions of lightyears away from our galaxy.
“It’s quite amazing that they think they’ve detected it and that when they do some analysis of what they think this planet could be, ends up being about twice the size of Saturn but really far away from its star.”
Dr Tucker said “every year would take 70 Earth-years” on the planet and now another galaxy is known to have an exoplanet, the question is raised as to whether it could sustain life like the Milky Way.
“That question of is there life or other Earths obviously becomes and important one in a bigger number now to think about,” he said.