Fifteen new planets including a habitable 'super-Earth' discovered

Fifteen new planets including a habitable 'super-Earth' discovered

The latest study of Kepler data has now identified 15 new exoplanets around red dwarfs, including a system of three "Super-Earths" - one of which appears to be orbiting within the host star's habitable zone.

The intriguing thing about studying cooler, smaller stars like red dwarfs is that not much research has been done yet into their planetary systems. Teruyuki Hirano who is a researcher at the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Tokyo Institute of Technology stated that planets which revolve around red dwarfs are usually smaller compared to the one revolving around solar-type stars. These include three so-called "super-Earths", one of which is believed to have a key ingredient for life - liquid water.

One of the brightest of the red dwarfs, called K2-155 is about 200 light years away from Earth is host to three "transiting super-Earths".

The findings on K2-155d are based on data from the NASA Kepler spacecraft's second mission, K2, and follow-up observations from ground-based telescopes in Hawaii and Spain, among other places.

However, researchers are excited about the findings, noting that the planets orbiting red dwarfs may have "remarkably similar" characteristics to planets orbiting solar-type stars. However, Kepler was originally meant to search for planets from brighter and larger stars than our Sun, which complicated the search for the red dwarfs. "Red dwarf systems, especially coolest red dwarfs, are just beginning to be investigated, so they are very exciting targets for future exoplanet research", said Hirano.

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This is unedited, unformatted feed from the Press Trust of India wire. So any possible life forms there probably bask on the day-side of the planet in constant sunlight that has a more reddish hue than the yellow glare from our brighter sun.

The researchers also investigated the relationship between planet radius and metallicity of the host star.

Over the past two years, astronomers have discovered several star systems and exoplanets, such as Proxima B and the seven small planets revolving the around the TRAPPIST-1 star. Furthermore, he speculated that photoevaporation, a phenomenon where electromagnetic radiation strips away a planet's atmosphere, might be the reason why there aren't too many large planets close to their host stars, and that the metallic content of a host star could be linked to the size of the planets that orbit it.

Hirano hopes that NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), slated to be launched in April 2018, will help alien planet-hunters discover more new planets. There seems to be a "gap" in the number of exoplanets with a radius between about 1.5 and 2 times that of Earth.

Histogram of planet radius for the validated and well-characterized transiting planets around red dwarfs: The number counts for mid-to-late red dwarfs (those with a surface temperature of under 3,500 K) are shown above those for early red dwarfs (those with a surface temperature of around 3,500-4,000 K). "This will greatly facilitate tracking observations, including the study of planetary atmospheres and determination of the precise orbit of planets".



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