Scientists Discover Super Earth With Icy Rocks 111 Light Years Away
Scientists Discover Super Earth With Icy Rocks 111 Light Years Away
U of T researcher finds Earth-like conditions in little-known exoplanet – and discovers a new planet
07 December, 2017, 07:18
"And so we sort of know that, for this planet, it's got about the right temperature that it could have liquid surface water".
"K2-18b is now one of the best targets for atmospheric study, it's going to the near top of the list".
"Being able to measure the mass and density of K2-18b was tremendous, but to discover a new exoplanet was lucky and equally exciting", said Cloutier.
While K2-18b and its newly discovered super-Earth nextdoor, K2-18c, are both roughly the same mass as Earth, their similarites may end there.
A study has revealed that a little-known planet about 111 light years away could be a "scaled-up version of Earth" and may be able to host alien life. The planet orbits within its star's habitable zone, which means it could hold liquid water on its surface - a key factor needed to sustain alien life.
An global team of astronomers has found that a little-known exoplanet called K2-18b could be a scaled-up version of Earth, and also discovered the planet has a massive neighbor, K2-18c.
To do that, Cloutier and his fellow researchers used data from the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher on the European Southern Observatory's 3.6-meter telescope in La Silla Observatory, Chile.
This artist's concept shows two super-Earth exoplanets, K2-18b and c, orbiting the red dwarf star K2-18.
While researchers were unable to determine exactly what the planet is composed of, they were able to narrow it down to two options: either the planet is made of up mostly rocky terrain, making it similar to Earth on a bigger scale, or water that sits covered in a thick layer of ice. By measuring the radial velocities of stars, which can be influenced by the presence of planets around those stars, HARPS can allow for the detection of the planets around the stars. K2-18b offers a unique chance for research when NASA'sJames Webb Space Telescope will launch in 2019. As per the researchers, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will play a significant role in finding out further information about this super-Earth. The telescope will be able to find objects beyond the range of our current space-based instruments.
Wasp-18b's remarkably close orbit to its star and lack of an Ozone adds to the unfriendly environment of the planet which is ten times larger than our solar system's most prominent, Jupiter.
In addition to a signal occurring every 39 days from the rotation of K2-18, and one taking place every 33 days from the orbit of K2-18b, they noticed a different signal occurring every 9 days. "You have to ensure the signal isn't just noise, and you need to do a careful analysis to verify it, but seeing that initial signal was a good indication there was another planet", Cloutier said in the statement. However, K2-18c doesn't really have a favourable atmosphere for life to thrive in it, as it's much closer to its star, being too hot to be habitable.
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