Indian Scientists Discover New Planet 600 Light Years Away

James Marshall
June 11, 2018

The host star itself is about 600 light years away from the Earth. Even more, the scientists calculated that the planet completes a full orbit around its star in only about 20 Earth days.

With this discovery, India is now among the league of countries that have discovered planets around stars.

EPIC 211945201b (or K2-236b) is the name given to the planet by the discovery team led by PRL's Abhijit Chakraborty. These type of spectrographs exist mostly in the U.S. and in the Europe that can do such precise measurements. The PRL scientists observed the target for around 420 days for probing the nature of the system using the PARAS spectrograph.

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 Physical Research Laboratory is a unit of Department of Space that carries out research in areas of physics, space and atmospheric sciences, astronomy, and planetary and geo-sciences.

"Such a discovery is of importance for understanding the formation mechanism of such super-Neptune or sub-Saturn kind of planets that are too close to the host star".

Since it closely rotates around a hot star, the planet bears a temperature of around 600 degree centigrade. 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.

Based on the mass and radius, model-dependent calculations suggest that the heavy elements, like ice, silicates, and iron content is 60 to 70% of the total mass.

Asked for his view, Jayant Murthy, senior professor of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bengaluru, said Dr. Chakraborty's group is the only one in the country doing this important work and has spent several years in developing the facility. It's very hard to discover an exoplanet because they are usually billions of times fainter than the stars they orbit.

According to SciTech Daily, John Grunsfeld, from NASA's Science Mission Directorate, explained that the Kepler spacecraft has yielded many surprises, and with the discovery of three new rocky planet, s we may be closer now to learning whether these other planetary systems may harbor life of some kind.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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