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

11 June, 2018, 16:24 | Author: Sherry Houston
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The planets, which were discovered around a star called K2-239, are incredibly close to Earth in overall size, with radii measuring between 1.0 and 1.1 times that of our own planet. According to ISRO, the newly found planet rotates around a star similar to the sun, and takes 19.5 days to complete one rotation. Scientists have named this host star as EPIC 211945201 or K2-236 while the planet will be known as EPIC 211945201b or K2-236b. 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. The discovery of the new planet was made by calculating the mass of the planet using the indigenously designed "PRL Advance Radial-velocity Abu-sky Search" (PARAS) spectrograph that is integrated with 1.2m Telescope at PRL's Gurushikhar Observatory in Mount Abu, India. "Very few such spectrographs exist around the world (mostly in the United States of America and in the Europe) that can do such precise measurements", the space agency said on its website late on June 8. Now, a trio of new rocky worlds has been discovered orbiting a distant star, and while they're a lot like Earth in terms of size, they're a bit steamier.

Being that close, you might think that the planets would be unbearably hot but the scientists say that might not be the case.

EPIC 211945201b's mass is around 27 times that of Earth's and it's estimated to be around six times greater in radius. The PRL scientists observed the target for around 420 days for probing the nature of the system using the PARAS spectrograph. Ice, silicates and iron content make up 60 per cent to 70 per cent of the total mass.

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Asked for his view, Jayant Murthy, senior professor of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bengaluru, said Dr. Chakraborty's group is the only one in the country doing this important work and has spent several years in developing the facility. "These planets are very unlike those in our own Solar System and understanding them will tell us more about how planetary systems are formed".

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. This is what they have so far discovered.

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