Cosmic Rival? Astronomers Spot Enigmatic System with Three Earth-Size Planets

11 Juin, 2018, 16:23 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Exoplanet discovered by Indian scientists 600 light years away

With this discovery, India is now among the league of countries that have discovered planets around stars. Researchers at the Indian Lab have discovered an exoplanet (a planet outside our solar system), larger than Neptune but smaller than Saturn, around 600 light years away from Earth.

"Although the atmospheric temperature of red dwarf stars, around which these planets revolve, is 3,450 and 3,800 Kelvin respectively, nearly half the temperature of our Sun", the researchers said.

The Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) and the University of Oviedo presented the discovery of two new planetary systems, one of them hosting three planets with the same size of the Earth.

This breakthrough was achieved by measuring the mass of the planet using the indigenously designed "PRL Advance Radial-velocity Abu-sky Search" (PARAS) spectrograph.

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The scientific team, led by Prof Abhijit Chakraborty of Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad, have found a sub-Saturn or super-Neptune size planet (mass of about 27 Earth Mass and size of 6 Earth Radii) around a Sun-like star. The planet takes approximately 19.5 days to go around the star. These type of spectrographs exist mostly in the United States of America and in the Europe that can do such precise measurements. It is closer to Neptune, he added.

The surface temperature of the K2-236b was found to be around 600 degrees Celsius. "These planets are very unlike those in our own Solar System and understanding them will tell us more about how planetary systems are formed". The scientists estimate that over 60% of its mass could be made up of heavy elements like ice, silicates and iron.

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. The PRL scientists observed the target for around 420 days for probing the nature of the system using the PARAS spectrograph. "Over the next few years, I expect that they will be able to make further contributions to this exciting field of astronomy".

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