Indian Scientists Discover New Planet 600 Light Years Away

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There will be future observation campaigns with the new James Webb space telescope that will aim to characterise the composition of the atmospheres of the newly discovered planets, the researchers said. The researchers found the it has a compact system of at least three rocky planets of similar size to the Earth that orbit the star in much less time than earth does the Sun, being every 5.2, 7.8 and 10.1 days, respectively. Its surface is around 600 degree Celsius and is very close to the host star. The team found the planet to be smaller in size than Saturn and bigger than Neptune. The mass of the planet has been estimated to be around 27 times the mass of the Earth whereas its radius is estimated to be 6 times that of the Earth. It revolves around the star in about 19.5 days. Such a high temperature might make it uninhabitable for living creatures. 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. The name of the host star is EPIC 211945201 or K2-236. 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.

Indian researchers at Physics Research Laboratory (PRL), for the first time, have succeeded in detecting a planet revolving around a star.

On the other hand, only a few such accurate and powerful spectrographs exist around the world, the majority of which being in the USA and Europe.

Initially, the source was found to be a planetary candidate from NASA K2 (Kepler2) photometry because it was transiting, that is the planet body comes in between the star and the observer on Earth as it goes around the star and therefore it blocks a tiny amount of star-light. But it does not necessarily mean that these planets are also habitable or have conditions necessary to support life. Also, they are extremely far away. The first exoplanet (51 Pegasi b) was discovered by Michael Mayor and Didier Queloz in 1995.

Also published on Medium.

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