January 19, 2019

Indian scientists discover planet 600 light years away from Earth

11 June 2018, 04:23 | Edward Lowe

Representative image | Pixabay

Indian scientists discover planet 600 light years away from Earth

A scientific team lead by Professor Abhijit Chakraborty of Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad has made a remarkable discovery. Orbited by two super-earths that are larger than the size of our planet two times, and mass - five. The team found the planet to be smaller in size than Saturn and bigger than Neptune. It contains at least three rocky planets, the radius of which is equal to or approximately equal to the earth, and the weight is 1.4, 0.9 and 1.3 times the mass of Earth. Although the atmospheric temperature of red dwarf stars, around which these planets revolve, is 3,450 and 3,800 K respectively, nearly half the temperature of our Sun.

While the planet is orbiting a Sun-like star, it's also roughly more than seven times closer to its star than Earth is to the Sun, which means the temperature could be around 600 degrees Celsius and likely too hot and dry to support life.

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The gravitational pull caused by a planet on its host star makes it wobble around their common center of mass, which shifts the spectra and can be measured in terms of Radial Velocity using precise and stabilised High Resolution Spectrographs, like the PARAS.

The indigenously designed spectrograph named PRL Advance Radial-velocity Abu-Sky Search (PARAS) integrated with a 1.2-metre telescope at PRL's Gurushikar Observatory in Mount Abu aided the researchers in finding the exoplanet. These type of spectrographs exist mostly in the United States of America and in the Europe that can do such precise measurements. The name of the star is EPIC 211945201 or K2-236 and the planet is EPIC 211945201b or K2-236b.

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Dr. Murthy said, "The work done by Dr. Chakraborty and his collaborators is important in characterising the nature of the exoplanet and they were able to show that the candidate is a close to Saturn-size planet orbiting near its star". It is expected to be launched in 2020.

The newly discovered planet adds to the list of exoplanets with masses between 10 and 70 MEarth and radii between 4 and 8 REarth. These are also called "extrasolar planets". This is what they have so far discovered.

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