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Space Science

Possible Extra-Galactic Planet Detected 83

Nancy Atkinson writes "Using a technique called pixel-lensing, a group of astronomers in Italy may have detected a planet orbiting another star. But this planet is unique among the 300-plus exoplanets discovered so far, as it and its parent star are in another galaxy. The Andromeda Galaxy, to be exact. Technically, the star in M31 was found to have a companion about 6 times the mass of Jupiter, so it could be either a brown dwarf or a planet. But either way, this is a remarkable feat, to find an object of that size in another galaxy."
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Possible Extra-Galactic Planet Detected

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  • by StikyPad ( 445176 ) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @01:43PM (#28282271) Homepage

    Intergalactic Planetary, Planetary Intergalactic?

    • by zobier ( 585066 )

      I misread one of the article tags as 'thatsnomnom' and wondered why this satelite was so delicious.

  • by BotnetZombie ( 1174935 ) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @01:45PM (#28282311)
    Does anyone know if this pixel-lensing technique can help in finding earth-size planets in our local galaxy?
    • by Grokmoo ( 1180039 ) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @02:41PM (#28283127)
      It is pretty unlikely to be used in the way (I think) you are thinking. The technique relies upon the use of gravitational lensing (specifically microlensing from a star). This requires that a closer star is very close to the line of sight of a more distant star. Also, the microlensing effect bends the angle of the light, and so the angular displacement depends on how far away the star doing the bending is. (If a star is very close and bending light, the light will not have gone very far from where it would be otherwise by the time it reaches us). I hope that made sense

      Anyway, because of these reasons, this technique is unlikely to be useful in analyzing stars within our own galaxy, and certainly is useless for stars within a few hundred light years, where all the other exoplanets have been found.
      • and certainly is useless for stars within a few hundred light years, where all the other exoplanets have been found.

        Huh? You think we have found all the (other?) exoplanets within a few hundred lightyears? What do you base this assumption on?

        • Sorry, I can see how one could easily read what I wrote to mean something other than what I meant.

          We have certainly not found all exoplanets within a few hundred light years. However, this technique is useless for distances that short. So, it will not help us in finding any additional planets within that distance.

          The reason this is important is because within that distance is where we are going to detect our first Earth like exo planet.
    • pixel-lensing? Do they have this in a Canon EF mount?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Xmastrspy ( 1170381 )

      "Pixel-lensing, or gravitational microlensing was developed to look for MAssive Compact Halo Objects MACHOs in the galactic halo of the Milky Way. Because light rays are bent when they pass close to a massive object, the gravity of a nearby star focuses the light from a distant star towards Earth. This method is sensitive to finding planets in our own galaxy, ranging is sizes from Jupiter-like planets to Earth-sized ones."

      So yes...
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @01:47PM (#28282347)

    But what exactly does it tell us?

    That there are planets around stars in other galaxies? Ok... has that been questioned? I mean, after all, we work under the assumption that the laws of physics are the same everywhere, so, since there are planets around our star, and planets around other stars, it shouldn't be a real surprise that there are planets around stars in other galaxies.

    That we can detect them? Ok, nice to know, but what do we gain from this? I'd guess it should be easier to gain insight from local (read: In this galaxy) planets rather than trying to get any information from planets that are by some magnitudes further away.

    Bottom line, is this anything but a penis comparison for astronomers who can find the farthest away planet?

    • by Random2 ( 1412773 ) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @01:52PM (#28282433) Journal

      I mean, after all, we work under the assumption that the laws of physics are the same everywhere,

      Well, proof is proof, and being able to have that proof is much better than assuming, at least from a scientific standpoint.

    • by Scragglykat ( 1185337 ) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @01:54PM (#28282465)

      Bottom line, is this anything but a penis comparison for astronomers who can find the farthest away planet?

      ...and this astronomer is hung like a brown dwarf!!!1

    • by d3ac0n ( 715594 )

      Bottom line, is this anything but a penis comparison for astronomers who can find the farthest away planet?

      Between that comment and this one:

      Lets get a good mastery of our own solar system before we go running off looking up Andromeda's skirt!

      I'm wondering just precisely what topic we are discussing here...

    • by thesandtiger ( 819476 ) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @03:38PM (#28283913)

      You said it yourself - we work under the *assumption* that the laws of physics are the same everywhere. It's nice to be able to test to make sure our assumptions are true, or at least not obviously false. And massive amounts of progress are usually made when we find out our assumptions are wrong rather than when we just confirm they're right, so we *should* always test the things we're assuming (but haven't really demonstrated) to be true.

      As to what we gain, we gain better instruments and more tools in our toolbox for studying the universe, and a tool that might be useful in other unexpected ways down the line. In another slashdot story today, a drug that was once going to be used to treat ulcers might now prove to be a very good medication for leukemia treatment. The scientist decided to test 2500 compounds on stem-cells and see if anything interesting happened and lo, it did. The scientists in this story decided to try out a new technique and demonstrated that they could find a (relatively) tiny object far, far away. I'm no astronomer, but I'd say that technique will likely have other applications.

      Intellectual curiosity is not a bad thing, and can lead to amazing stuff.

    • by bareman ( 60518 )

      Shhhhhh. We're looking for a place to send politicians.

      • Reminds me of the old joke from GDR times. "Comrades! The Russians are on the moon!" (hopeful guy in the back) "Really? All of them?"

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kmac06 ( 608921 )
      Many thousands of years ago the first planets other than Earth were first recognized, and only hundreds of years ago were they seen for what they are. It was less than 15 years ago that the first extra-solar planet was discovered. That didn't tell us much by itself either--but it was the first. Likewise, this is the first outside of our galaxy.
  • NOT extra-galactic (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Smivs ( 1197859 )

    I was fooled by the bad title. Surely 'extra-galactic' means outside a galaxy...I envisaged a planet just floating around in inter-galactic space which would have been really interesting. This one IS in a galaxy, just not ours.

    • by canajin56 ( 660655 ) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @02:03PM (#28282583)
      So it's not an extra-marital affair if your lover is also married? ;)
    • by youn ( 1516637 )

      :) Playing with words, you can find several meanings for extra galactic... for example you could say that extra means more... a planet more galactic than others... how can a planet be more galactic than others? is it a planet with attitude, like earth, fostering life? or is it a planet taking up all the galaxy.

      Extra Terrestrial Beings = Beings out of this planet... but it does not mean they have no planet of origin (and in fact nothing is to stop them in theory call it earth/ terra too) :)

    • That's what I thought too, but more like SPACE: 1999 [].
  • They must have found the Algol solar system! That planet must be either Palma, Motavia or Dezoris.

  • by maroberts ( 15852 ) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @02:18PM (#28282803) Homepage Journal
    It's a Space Station!
  • Andromeda is pretty far away, and anything we see happened a long time ago... bingo!

    They found the Star Wars locale. If they can refine their work they could get a picture of the real Yoda.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by youn ( 1516637 )

      On galactic scales, it's actually the closest spiral galaxy... of course, dont plan to picnic there anytime soon :)

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        M31 and the Milky Way seem to be on a collision course.

        From Wikipedia:

        "The Andromeda Galaxy is approaching the Sun at about 300 kilometers per second (186 miles/s.), so it is one of the few blue shifted galaxies. Given the motion of the Solar System inside the Milky Way, one finds that the Andromeda Galaxy and the Milky Way are approaching one another at a speed of 100 to 140 kilometers per second (62â"87 miles/s.; 223,200â"313,200mph). The collision is predicted to occur in about 2.5 billion year

  • If this keeps up, pretty soon we'll be able to watch the Star Wars trilogy unfold through a telescope!
    It may have happened "a long time ago" but since it was "far far away" the speed of light may let us catch it.

    Someone call me when they're able to spot the Death Star :)

  • Since we're seeing light from the far distant past, and the Andromeda galaxy is quite some ways out there, I fully expect that by using this pixel lensing technique to detect things a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, we should see X-Wing fighters soon. Or at least Star Destroyers, if X-Wings are too small to resolve at this distance. We've never been able to find evidence of these vehicles outside of the Historical Documents, because we had heretofore been looking only inside our own dinky galaxy.

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