Super Earths Discovered Orbiting Nearby Red Dwarf Gliese 887

  • Super Earths Discovered Orbiting Nearby Red Dwarf Gliese 887

Super Earths Discovered Orbiting Nearby Red Dwarf Gliese 887

The researchers have also reported the detection of an unconfirmed signal from the multiplanet system which could potentially be "a third super-Earth in a more temperate orbit".

Despite being so close to the star, scientists believe they are in the habitable zone of the cooler red dwarf.

Unlike other red dwarfs, this star has very few starspots and is much less active - meaning the newly-discovered planets have a better chance of retaining their atmosphere, making conditions for life more plausible.

The research, which was published in Science, holds a lot of promise, but we don't yet possess the technology to view these Earth-alikes in greater detail. These exoplanets are particularly interesting because Gliese 887 is one of the calmer nearby red dwarfs. Not giving up, astronomers continued to study the star entrusting their hopes to the HARPS instrument (High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher) at the La Silla Observatory in Chile.

Fellow USQ researcher and study co-author Professor Rob Wittenmyer said the star was also very stable. The collected data shows that one of them needs 9 Earth days to complete a full orbit around Gliese 887, while the other needs 21 days. Exoplanets (planets located outside our Solar system) are called Gliese Gliese 887b and 887c.

The newly discovered super-Earths could be rocky worlds, and lie close to the habitable zone of this red dwarf star - the zone where water could exist in liquid form on a planetary surface. Thanks to space telescopes like the Kepler and the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), astronomers have discovered two, possibly three "super-Earths" orbit a bright but quiet red dwarf star sitting just 11 light-years from Earth. Scientists say that these new planets can have thicker atmospheres than Earth, and potentially contain life.

"Planets orbiting nearby stars are key for searches with future telescopes for both exoplanetary atmospheres, and eventually evidence for life".

Another interesting discovery that the scientists made was that Gliese 887's brightness is almost constant. In the end, they generated a visualization analogous to a time-lapse movie, which revealed that the Gliese 887 was jiggling. Additionally, the researchers also found that the brightness from the red dwarf star is nearly constant, making it easier for space telescopes to look for the atmospheres on the super-Earths. This will make the system an important area of study for the Hubble Telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope.

At 10.7 light-years away, Lacaille 9352 is the 12th closest star system to the Sun.

Their distance from their host star is much shorter than that of the Earth-Sun relationship.