Scientists Discover Potential Super-Earth Orbiting 'Nearby' Star

  • Scientists Discover Potential Super-Earth Orbiting 'Nearby' Star

Scientists Discover Potential Super-Earth Orbiting 'Nearby' Star

An worldwide group of scientists has discovered an exoplanet with the help of a vast array of data, collected seven advanced tools (including a spectrograph of the European southern Observatory HARPS) telescope in different parts of the world covering 20 years of observations.

After looking at 20 years' worth of data, the team detected a planet that circles the star every 233 days, a mass at least 3.2 times that of Earth, and an orbital distance similar to that of Mercury to the Sun.

Its mass exceeds the earth approximately 3.2-fold; the temperature at the surface Barnard" s Star b - approx -170 degrees Celsius: "it makes the planet not a very good candidate to search for extraterrestrial life. Any water found on the exoplanet would be frozen. There probably isn't life on the planet, given the fact that the distance from its star is way too big.

They then used a phenomenon known as the Doppler effect to track the impact of its gravitational pull on its parent star.

The research team - including astronomers from Queen Mary University of London, the European Southern Observatory, the Institut d'Estudis Espacials de Catalunya and the Institute of Space Sciences/CSIC in Spain - has published its paper in journal Nature.

An artist's illustration of Barnard's star b.

"It's sort of in a fuzzy area with respect to its properties".

An artistic rendering imagines Barnard's star b's frozen, rocky surface. But, because Barnard's Star is so dim, the potential planet lies right around the system's "snow line" - the region where volatile materials such as water can condense into solid ices. The newly discovered one is the second closest to our solar system ever found.

The only known exoplanet closer to Earth was discovered in 2016 orbiting one of a cluster of stars in the Alpha Centauri system, just over four light years away. Together, Proxima b and Barnard's Star b strongly suggest that such worlds "are also common in our neighborhood", study co-author Johanna Teske, of the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C., told Space.com.

Never before had the radial velocity method been used to find such a small planet in such a distant orbit, study team members said.

"The additional data from CARMENES strongly confirmed the signal, and removed any lingering doubt as to the reality of this planet", Vogt said. "It could lead potentially to other discoveries".