Indian scientists discover planet 600 light years away from Earth

Scientists did not directly observe the planet but monitored the changes in the wavelength of light emitting from the star to deduce the presence of another body in its star system

In a post on its website, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said that the name of the planet is EPIC 211945201b or K2-236b. "Very few such spectrographs exist around the world (mostly in the U.S. and in the Europe) that can do such precise measurements", the space agency said on its website late on June 8.

The other planetary system also has a red dwarf star surrounded by two super-Earth-like planets. 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.

The exoplanet is reported to be smaller than Saturn but bigger than Neptune.

"Such a discovery is of importance for understanding the formation mechanism of such super-Neptune or sub-Saturn kind of planets that are too close to the host star".

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". The temperature of the surface of the newly-found planet is around 600 degrees Celsius.

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This breakthrough was achieved by measuring the mass of the planet using the indigenously designed "PRL Advance Radial-velocity Abu-sky Search" (PARAS) spectrograph. 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. These type of spectrographs exist mostly in the U.S. and in the Europe that can do such precise measurements. However, that data was not sufficient to confirm the planetary nature of the system.

According to The Hindu, PARAS will be upgraded with a 2.5 m telescope, and it will be known as PARAS-2.

That solar system, which orbits the star K2-239, is located about 160 lightyears away and can be found inside the constellation Sextans (the Sextant, naturally). But it does not necessarily mean that these planets are also habitable or have conditions necessary to support life.

The first exoplanet was discovered in the early 1990s. It's very hard to discover an exoplanet because they are usually billions of times fainter than the stars they orbit.



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