Thursday, 16 August, 2018

ISRO’s PRL scientists discover an ‘EPIC’ planet

Representational Image YouTube SciNews Representational Image YouTube Sci News
Sandra Phillips | 11 June, 2018, 16:24

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. The newfound planet revolves around a Sun-like star which is some 600 light years away from Earth, reported The Times of India.

This is the first of its kind spectrograph in the country, which can measure the mass of a planet going around a star and with this discovery India has joined a handful of countries which have discovered planets around stars.

"Although the atmospheric temperature of red dwarf stars, around which these planets revolve, is 3,450 and 3,800 Kelvin respectively, nearly half the temperature of our Sun", the researchers said. The team found the planet to be smaller in size than Saturn and bigger than Neptune. It was also observed that K2-236b completed an orbit around the central star in 19.5 days. The mass of the planet has been estimated to be around 27 times the mass of the Earth whereas its radius is estimated to be 6 times that of the Earth. It is closer to Neptune, he added. "Very few such spectrographs exist around the world (mostly in the US and in the Europe) that can do such precise measurements", the space agency said on its website late on June 8.

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The planet is seven times nearer to the host star than the Earth-Sun distance which leads to its surface temperature to 600°C. Ice, silicates and iron content make up 60 per cent to 70 per cent of the total mass. The report said it was Nasa's K2 (Kepler2) photometry that found that the source was a planetary candidate as it was transiting, where the planet body comes between the star and the Earth. This is what they have so far discovered.

That's why the discovery of this super-Neptune planet is of great importance for the Indian astronomers as it is the first exoplanet this country's scientists have ever identified on their own. The discovery of these rocky planets in the habitable zone brings us a bit closer to finding a place like home. However, he said, radial velocity observations as made in this case "are not, in general, discovery observations but [a] look at already known planetary systems for a better understanding of their nature".

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