Indian scientists discover exoplanet 600 light years away

  • Indian scientists discover exoplanet 600 light years away

Indian scientists discover exoplanet 600 light years away

Artistic simulation of a planetary system composed by three rocky planets wiht the same size of the Earth.

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.

The star is situated around 600 light years away. Since the planet revolves around host star EPIC 211945201 or K2-236, it will be known as EPIC 211945201b or K2-236b - ISRO said.

The Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) and the University of Oviedo presented the discovery of two new planetary systems, one of them hosting three planets with the same size of the Earth.

The indigenously designed spectrograph named PRL Advance Radial-velocity Abu-Sky Search (PARAS) integrated with a 1.2-metre telescope at PRL's Gurushikar Observatory in Mount Abu aided the researchers in finding the exoplanet.

The exoplanet is reported to be smaller than Saturn but bigger than Neptune. These planets are orbiting around the star every 5.2, 7.8 and 10.1 days.

Importantly, this discovery could help scientists understand how these types of planets form so close to their host star. 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.

On the other hand, only a few such accurate and powerful spectrographs exist around the world, the majority of which being in the U.S. and Europe.

Exoplanets themselves aren't that rare these days - we have confirmed the existence of 3,786 of them. In comparison with the Earth's distance to the sun, the planet is seven times nearer to its star - such conditions might render the star inhabitable. Such a high temperature might make it uninhabitable for living creatures. 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. This is what they have so far discovered.