First-ever planet may have been found in another galaxy

First Candidate for a Planet in an External Galaxy

In a surprise paper, a team of researchers from the U.S. and China has found the first evidence for a candidate planet in another galaxy.

The Whirlpool Galaxy – M51

The planet candidate lies in the M51 Whirlpool Galaxy and is approximately 23 million light years away. M51 lies relatively close to Ursa Major aka the “Great Bear”. The researchers observed what they believed to be planetary transit that lasted for approximately three hours as seen in figure 1 below.


Do external galaxies host planetary systems? Many lines of reasoning suggest that the answer must be ‘yes’. In the foreseeable future, however, the question cannot be answered by the methods most successful in our own Galaxy. We report on a different approach which focuses on bright X-ray sources (XRSs). M51-ULS-1b is the first planet candidate to be found because it produces a full, short-lived eclipse of a bright XRS. M51-ULS-1b has a most probable radius slightly smaller than Saturn. It orbits one of the brightest XRSs in the external galaxy M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy, located 8.6 Megaparsecs from Earth. It is the first candidate for a planet in an external galaxy.

The paper:

If it is confirmed, it will be named M51-ULS-1b.

More analysis of the system is required before the object can be confirmed as an actual planet revealed by a planetary transit, but if confirmed as a planet, the researchers believe it will likely be approximately the size of Saturn or a little smaller.

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Ron Long
September 28, 2020 3:02 am

Awesome! However, if we want to visit/colonize/contaminate this new planet we need to leave right away. consulting my Star Trek Decoder Ring I see maximum speed of Warp Factor 8 is 125 light years per hour, or 504 years to travel 23 million light years. I’m busy right now so somebody else needs to volunteer.

Reply to  Ron Long
September 28, 2020 3:58 am

Found a planet at approximately 23 million light years away?!
Try another one.

Reply to  Vuk
September 28, 2020 9:39 am

Rumor has it there’s a shorter route through a wormhole that is less than 12 parsecs.

Reply to  Ron Long
September 28, 2020 4:12 am

Ron Long
September 28, 2020 at 3:02 am

Ron hold your horses mate.
It is not confirmed yet,
and by the looks of it, it seems more like these guys trying a confirm the M51-ULS-1b Galaxy than the “planet” in it.
You would not want to go through “dark matter”, mate… 🙂


Hans Erren
Reply to  Ron Long
September 28, 2020 6:34 am

Ron, so you would like to colonize a gas giant planet with the size of Saturn which orbits the brightest X-Ray star of Galaxy M51?

Ron Long
Reply to  Hans Erren
September 28, 2020 7:03 am

Don’t goof on me, Hans, I have my phaser set to “castrate”.

Dodgy Geezer
Reply to  Hans Erren
September 28, 2020 9:05 am

Might be a good candidate for putting automated solar power generators at a Legrange point…

Reply to  Ron Long
September 28, 2020 8:59 am

I can help. All the evidence you need that planets may exist in other galaxies is matter and gravity.
The matter is obviously arranged by gravitational forces ergo you have evidence of candidate planet creation.
Actual visual observation of the planet that far away is another thing entirely, and cannot presently be done. What they can attempt to measure is the gravitational effects a dark body maybe having on its parent star. Then they will have some artist concoct a spacey image using the most popular colors of the hour. (heck its a dark body, at night, billions of LY away, it could be any color)
Good luck with that. But, that is the way such first detection will be made.

James F. Evans
Reply to  Rocketscientist
September 28, 2020 11:27 am

Rocketscientist wrote: “The matter is obviously arranged by gravitational forces…”

No, that is not obvious. Indeed, galaxies rotate in a way (the outer edges rotate at the same speed, rather than slower as gravity models suggest, thus, the need to have so-called “dark matter” to make the models work, which has never been observed) that gravity does not explain.

Actually, there is evidence that electromagnetism, one of the fundamental forces of nature, may have as much or more effect on the arrangement of matter in the universe than gravity.

As for the planet in the article, I suspect the authors are drawing conclusions which go beyond the evidence at their disposal in order to be relevant and justify their time and expense.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  James F. Evans
September 29, 2020 5:56 pm

“As for the planet in the article, I suspect the authors are drawing conclusions which go beyond the evidence at their disposal in order to be relevant and justify their time and expense.”

Say it ain’t so, James!! That would NEVER EVER happen!

I refuse to put a sarc tag.

Reply to  Ron Long
September 28, 2020 6:00 pm

If once you are there you slingshot around the star (and come out through paint) you could arrive before you left.

David Stone CEng
September 28, 2020 4:03 am

Interesting but I hope that they have more than a single pass. They need at least 3 passes, and the time between them identical, the orbital time. Anything else could be virtually anything, and not any kind of proof, just a maybe.

The data presented is also somewhat suspicious, as the x-ray source appears to be virtually completely obscured by the “transit”, and x-ray sources are stars so relitively large. The second graph also shows that the source is varying from almost zero to the peak, where the “transit” happens. Why is this variation measured, is it the Eart rotation, tracking errors or something else. Data should be fully described. I am off to read the paper!

Reply to  David Stone CEng
September 28, 2020 4:31 am

Chandra X-ray Observatory had a long-term electronics issue, which apparently was rectified only very recently.
NASA: After isolating an issue to electronics in use since launch in 1999 (far longer than the mission design life of 5 years) the team activated the camera’s back-up set of electronics. On Sept. 7.

William Haas
September 28, 2020 4:19 am

They need to send up a probe to verify the finding. Using today’s technology how long would it take a probe to travel the 25 million light years out there and return? I doubt that they have ever built a space craft that will continue to be highly reliable for that long of a time. The space craft would have to carry enough fuel to not only make the trip out there but to also make the trip home. How much would the effort cost?

Craig W
September 28, 2020 4:27 am

I’m there man … 23 light years and me!
Discovering new planets is beginning to sound more like doomsday cults predicting the end.

Craig W
Reply to  Craig W
September 28, 2020 4:30 am

That’s “23 million light years and me” 😁

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
Reply to  Craig W
September 28, 2020 4:39 am

The said planet, if it exists, must be carefully explored to show evidence of human caused planetary warming and lead to further demands for more grants/”carbon” reductions here. Action at a distance. Send Attenborough.

September 28, 2020 4:55 am

“They” are already here. !! 😉

Tom in Florida
September 28, 2020 5:52 am

So it is claimed that a tiny planet has been found from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

September 28, 2020 6:54 am

What is with the term “external galaxy”? All other galaxies are external to ours. Seems unnecessarily wordy.

Bruce Cobb
September 28, 2020 7:11 am

Finally, at long last, we will know what planet the Warmunists are living on, and more importantly, what color the sky is there. They never say.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
September 28, 2020 9:45 am

Red. Their sky is red.

Tom Abbott
September 28, 2020 7:34 am

From the article: “Do external galaxies host planetary systems? Many lines of reasoning suggest that the answer must be ‘yes’.”

No, the answer would be: Of course they do.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
September 28, 2020 12:06 pm

Just like the climate “scientists,” astronomers build models (“lines of reasoning”).

Contrary to the climate “scientists,” astronomers don’t claim that their models are correct until they have observations that match their models.

Tom Abbott
September 28, 2020 7:40 am

We need bigger telescopes! 🙂

Astronomy must be a booming profession right now.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
September 28, 2020 8:52 am

Not near as booming as the climate change grants.
With one radio telescope in each of 8 planets orbits (to make up an array) we might be able to see a high resolution few billions of light years (but less than 14) in each direction in, depending how fast is the expansion/inflation if there is or was such a thing. Of course, synchronisation and stitching up of incoming data would’ not be a problem for the UK’s MetOffice supercomputer, currently spewing useless climate change forecasts.

September 28, 2020 8:22 am

23 million light years is a long long ways away. They don’t even really know how many stars compose the galaxy. We have a lot closer stars in our own galaxy at which we only recently think we detected planets. I think it is safe to write this report off to “fake news”.

September 28, 2020 9:03 am

The astronomers must all be miffed with the ‘climate scientists’ getting all these grants to ‘study’ climate change, so they come up with a real whale of a tale and now just need some grant monies to study this ‘extragalactic’ planet to confirm. The astronomers are probably more deserving.

September 28, 2020 9:19 am

Now to figure how to get there in a couple of hours for a closer look.

September 28, 2020 9:44 am

They detected a signal of assumed/asserted fidelity and inferred a planet.

Bill Powers
September 28, 2020 9:45 am

All this stargazing is fun until we consider the amount of taxpayer dollars that go into funding it.

How about we turn our daydream believer telescopes back to earth and solve the equation for how the eff do we get anywhere in space with all the material and equipment we need for survival before we start planning vacation destinations that are 23 million X 6 Trillion or 138 Quintillion miles away.

They call it Science Fiction for a reason. Get back to me when they solve those little glitches like light speed and stasis travel or that bendy space thingy with its space warp tunnels.

September 28, 2020 10:01 am

How do they know that this is not just a binary star system instead of a near planet? Wouldn’t one star eclipsing the other have the same effect?
It’s hard to believe that the available sensors are sensitive enough to detect a mere planet at that distance.

Bill Taylor
September 28, 2020 10:27 am

how can anybody using the term “external galaxy” be taken seriously? what is the possible definition of such a term?

Reply to  Bill Taylor
September 28, 2020 12:29 pm

In this case ‘external galaxy’ refers to the chocolate bar that Ms Julia Berndtsson (Princeton Uni) accidentally left outside her shopping basket.

Rod Evans
September 28, 2020 12:53 pm

Wow this is so exciting and only 23 million light years away! We should reprogram Voyager to go take a look. At its present speed (around 40,000 mph), it would only take 385 billion years to get there. As we have only had a planet to stand on for 4.5 billion years with perhaps another 4.5 billion years before we are consumed by the heat from our expanding sun. I am wondering if we might have other things to worry us by then. Sadly, voyager would still have around 380 billion years travel time ahead of it, before it reached the newly discovered planet…..

Hari Seldon
September 28, 2020 3:01 pm

Or it’s a multiple star system and you picked up an orbiting neutron star yada yada, which would be much more plausible than planet which would be an order of magnitude smaller.

September 28, 2020 7:22 pm

new planet… 23 mil light years away… fake news.

Bill Parsons
September 28, 2020 11:49 pm

Jeez. So many skeptics. It’s right there. Just look at the x-ray image!

Oh, wait … that was a bug. Nevermind.

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