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M51-ULS-1b: The First Candidate for a Planet in an External Galaxy

By R. Di Stefano, Julia Berndtsson, Ryan Urquhart, Roberto Soria, Vinay L. Kashyap, Theron W. Carmichael and Nia Imara


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 binary it orbits, M51-ULS-1, is young and massive. One of the binary components is a stellar remnant, either a neutron star (NS) or black hole (BH), and the other is a massive star. X-ray transits can now be used to discover more planets in external galaxies and also planets orbiting XRSs inside the Milky Way.Comment: 19 pages, 13 figures, 2 tables. Submitte

Topics: Astrophysics - High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena
Year: 2020
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