Indian scientists discover exoplanet 600 light years away

Scientists Discover New Planet 'EPIC 211945201' 600 Light Years Away at Mount Abu Observatory

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.

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.

Prof Abhijit Chakraborty said that the new planet, which is 600 light years away from Earth, was between the size of Saturn and Neptune. "It's closer to Neptune", he said.

It is being reported that when it comes to the temperature of the three planets that are the same size as Earth, this is where the similarity ends as they would nearly certainly have surface temperatures that are much higher than our planet owing to the intense radiation given by the red dwarf star they orbit.

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. The scientists estimate that over 60% of its mass could be made up of heavy elements like ice, silicates and iron. The host star is named EPIC 211945201 or K2-236.

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The second red dwarf star that was detected with a new planetary system is K2-240, and this particular star features two large planets that are double the size of Earth.

The scientists added that the temperature of the planet was roughly 600 degrees Celsius due to its proximity to its host star. Significantly, the discovery was made using a PRL-designed spectrograph, PARAS, to measure and confirm the mass of the new planet. Isro said very few such spectrographs exist around the world (mostly in the U.S. and Europe) that can do such precise measurements.

The scientists observed the target over a time 420 days or about 1.5 years. "Extra" implies that these are outside our solar system. It's very hard to discover an exoplanet because they are usually billions of times fainter than the stars they orbit. They can also use other telescopes to work out more of the physical properties of the worlds.

The first exoplanet was discovered in the early 1990s.

Also published on Medium.

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