Indian scientists discover exoplanet 600 light years away


Indian scientists discover exoplanet 600 light years away

The team was led by Abhijit Chakraborty from the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has made great strides in recent years, setting new records for satellite launches and putting a probe into orbit around Mars - all for incredibly efficient prices.

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 planets, which were discovered around a star called K2-239, are incredibly close to Earth in overall size, with radii measuring between 1.0 and 1.1 times that of our own planet. The first includes star K2-239, which is a red dwarf and remote from the Sun for up to 160 light years. However, this discovery is crucial for knowing the mechanism of such super-Neptune or sub-Saturn kind of planets, that are too close to the host star.

With this discovery, India has joined the elite club of a handful of countries which have discovered planets around stars, ISRO said. It has the name EPIC 211945201 (K2-236) and thus, the planet has been given the name EPIC 211945201B (K2-236B).

Researchers have determined that the atmospheric temperature of these two red dwarf stars approaches between 3,450 and 3,800 K which is much less than our own sun, with only half of its intensity. This discovery is the first of its type that occurred on the Indian territory, placing the Asian country on the very selective list of the countries that discovered far-distant worlds.

On the other hand, only a few such accurate and powerful spectrographs exist around the world, the majority of which being in the United States and Europe. The scientists have used a PARAS spectrograph for calculating the mass of the planet. The planet's environment is not suitable to support any kind of life forms, however, its size and mass are what holds the importance.

A total of seven Earth-size planets were found there, three of which are in the so-dubbed "habitable zone". The temperature of the surface of the newly-found planet is around 600 degrees Celsius.

The planet orbits a Sun-like star 600 light-years away.