Explainer: Indian scientists discover exoplanet 600 light years from Earth

Indian scientists discover planet

One of them is just 160 light years from Earth and includes three planets that are remarkably similar in size to our own.

According to the website of the Indian Space Research Organisation, scientists have said that the planet revolves around a sun-like star. The surface temperature of the planet was recorded around 600 degree Celsius due to its close proximity to the host star. The team found the planet to be smaller in size than Saturn and bigger than Neptune.

Ahmedabad, India, have identified a new exoplanet, a super-Neptune planet, situated at 600 million light-years far from the Earth. 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. We've already messed up our planet pretty badly, and even if we don't push the Earth completely over the edge ourselves there's the simple fact that no planet lasts forever.

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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. 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. Hence the planet will be known as EPIC 211945201b or K2-236b. It was designed by the members of the Astronomy and Astrophysics Division of PRL. Very few such spectrographs exist around the world (mostly in the U.S. and in the Europe) that can do such precise measurements. "Extra" implies that these are outside our solar system.

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 first exoplanet (51 Pegasi b) was discovered by Michael Mayor and Didier Queloz in 1995. But the newly discovered worlds are much closer, meaning that the temperature is probably too hot for life.

Also published on Medium.


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