Indian scientists discover exoplanet 600 light years away

Postado Junho 11, 2018

The discovery was made by the astronomy team headed by Professor Abhijit Chakraborty of PRL.

A sub-Saturn or super-Neptune sized planet which has 27 times more mass and whose radius is six times more than that of the planet Earth has been discovered by a group of researchers from the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad. These researchers estimate that all planets discovered will have temperatures superficial tens of degrees higher than those of the planet Earth due to the strong radiation they receive in these close orbits to their stars.

In a conversation with Times of India, Chakraborty suggested that the planet was six hundred light years away from Earth and would be between Saturn and Neptune in size. This is the first of its kind spectrograph in the country, which can measure the mass of a planet moving around a star. It has a compact system of at least three rocky planets of similar size to the Earth (1.1, 1.0 and 1.1 Earth radii) that orbit the star every 5.2, 7.8 and 10.1 days, respectively. The name of the star is EPIC 211945201 or K2-236 and the planet is EPIC 211945201b or K2-236b. Ice, silicates and iron content make up 60 per cent to 70 per cent of the total mass. Isro said very few such spectrographs exist around the world (mostly in the USA and Europe) that can do such precise measurements. The PRL scientists observed the target for around 420 days for probing the nature of the system using the PARAS spectrograph. It is expected to be launched in 2020.

Initially, the source was found to be a planetary candidate from NASA K2 (Kepler2) photometry because it was transiting, that is the planet body comes in between the star and the observer on Earth as it goes around the star and therefore it blocks a tiny amount of star-light. These are also called "extrasolar planets". It's very hard to discover an exoplanet because they are usually billions of times fainter than the stars they orbit. This discovery is the first of its type that occurred on the Indian territory, placing the Asian country on the very selective list of the countries that discovered far-distant worlds.

Also published on Medium.