A team of scientists has discovered a new planet that revolves around a host star estimated to be about 600 light-years away from Earth.
With the new planet's calculated orbit around its sun-like star, it is estimated that a year on this planet ends in about 19.5 days. This means that the planet is too close to its host star compared to Earth's distance to the sun.
The scientists from the Physical Research Laboratory in Ahmedabad, India, described the new planet as a sub-Saturn or super-Neptune size exoplanet. It weighs about 27 times the mass of Earth and measures six times the radius of Earth.
The discovery becomes one big step for India with regard to space exploration. Most importantly, the discovery of the new planet can help scientists to fully understand the nature of exoplanets that are too close to their "suns."
'EPIC' Planet Discovered
The team named the new planet as EPIC 211945201b or K2-236b after its host star.
Based on initial conclusions derived by the scientists, the EPIC is uninhabitable due to its surface temperature measuring about 600 degrees Celcius. Its location, being too close to its host star, made it too hot for possible life to thrive. It was estimated to be about seven times nearer compared to the Earth-sun distance.
One important finding about the EPIC planet was that it contains heavy elements such as ice, silicates, and iron. The total mass of these elements was calculated at about 60 to 70 percent of planet EPIC's total mass. This information was important for EPIC to be confirmed as a new planet, the scientists said in their study published in the Astronomical Journal on June 8.
EPIC now joins several exoplanets with masses between 10-70 the mass of Earth and 4-8 the radius of Earth and exoplanets which scientists had already achieved 50 percent précised measurement. To date, there are only 23 exoplanets of which mass and radius had already been accurately measured.
One Big Step For India
The scientists used a tool they called the PRL Advance Radial-velocity Abu-sky Search or PARAS spectrograph to achieve exact measurements of the EPIC planet. The team observed the previously unknown astronomical body over a period of 420 days or about one and a half year.
Specifically, the PARAS made it possible for the scientists to measure how planet EPIC correlates to the amplitude produced when its host star responds to its orbit. The gravitational pull by any planet caused its sun-like stars to wobble around their common center of mass. This wobbling transfers spectra that can only be measured in terms of Radial Velocity. Only a tool such as the PARAS can precisely compute Radial Velocity.
The PARAS is the first spectrograph of its kind in India. Most of the similar apparatus may only be found in the United States and Europe.