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Jun 11, 2009

Found the First Exoplanet in Another Galaxy?

To date, scientists have discovered over 300 exoplanets, which are planets orbiting stars other than our own sun. Recently, a group of astronomers may have detected another one, as Universe Today reports. In and of itself, that's not news--except that this one may be in another galaxy.

It turns out that one specific star in the Andromeda Galaxy--which is over two million light-years away--has some kind of object orbiting it that's about six times the mass of Jupiter. At that size and distance, it could be either a planet or a brown dwarf star, but astronomers are leaning toward the former.

To find the exoplanet, the report said that the astronomers used a technique called pixel-lensing, which is essentially gravitational microlensing: looking for bent light rays when they pass close to a massive object, as per Einstein's general theory of relativity. (Image credit: NASA/Tony Hallas)

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