Astronomers spot a trio of Earth-sized planets orbiting a distant star

11 Juin, 2018, 01:42 | Auteur: Therese Cote

This announcement was done by the Indian Research Space Organisation (ISRO) on June 8, 2018.

The surface temperature of the planet was found to be around 600 degrees Celsius and was found to be seven times nearer to its star, in comparison with Earth-sun distance.

Researchers at the PRL believes that the discovery of such planets will help them to study the formation of sub-Neptune or sub-Saturn like planets.

Prof Abhijit Chakraborty said that the new planet, which is 600 light years away from Earth, was between the size of Saturn and Neptune. They integrated the spectrograph with a 1.2m telescope at PRL's Gurushikar Observatory in Mount Abu, to measure the mass of the planet, leading to the discovery.

Otherwise, the planets are probably inhospitable: they are very close to their star and therefore very warm.

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The team was able to identify a super-Neptune exoplanet, that is a planet bigger than Neptune also known as a sub-Saturn exoplanet.

That's why the discovery of this super-Neptune planet is of great importance for the Indian astronomers as it is the first exoplanet this country's scientists have ever identified on their own. PRL scientists, who observed the target for about 1.5 years with the spectrograph, made calculations which suggested that heavy elements like ice, silicates and iron content make 60%-70% of the total mass.

Scientists now hope to use further observations - from the new James Webb Space Telescope - to understand more about the planets' atmospheres. Significantly, the discovery was made using a PRL-designed spectrograph, PARAS, to measure and confirm the mass of the new planet. These type of spectrographs exist mostly in the US and in the Europe that can do such precise measurements.

According to the definition, these are the planets which orbit a star outside the solar system. It's very hard to discover an exoplanet because they are usually billions of times fainter than the stars they orbit. But the newly discovered worlds are much closer, meaning that the temperature is probably too hot for life.

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