Thursday, 21 June, 2018

ISRO’s PRL scientists discover an ‘EPIC’ planet

Exoplanet discovered by Indian scientists 600 light years away Representational Image. Source NASA
Frank Williams | 11 June, 2018, 16:23

India has joined the elite club of a handful of countries with this discovery of new planets around stars.

"Although the atmospheric temperature of red dwarf stars, around which these planets revolve, is 3,450 and 3,800 Kelvin respectively, nearly half the temperature of our Sun", the researchers said.

Ahmedabad, have discovered an exoplanet that is larger than Neptune but smaller than Saturn. It goes around the star in about 19.5 days.

The Indian team from the PRL employed their "PRL Advance Radial-velocity Abu-sky Search" (PARAS) spectrograph with which they measured the mass of the new exoplanet.

NASA's Kepler satellite, which was launched in 2009 as part of the K2 mission, has uncovered three Earth-sized planets in another solar system. The planet is about 27 times the mass of Earth and six times the radius of Earth. The detection also adds to a sparse catalogue of 22 other confirmed exoplanet systems that have a mass and radius in this range, ISRO said. Very few such spectrographs exist around the world (mostly in the U.S. and in the Europe) that can do such precise measurements. The newly discovered planet was found around a Sun-like star, according to Isro.

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They estimate that all the planets discovered will have temperatures at least tens of degrees higher than those of the planet Earth due to the strong radiation they receive in their close orbits to their star.

However, calculations suggest that the heavy elements, ice, silicates, and iron content are 60-70 % of the total mass.

The scientists observed the target over a time 420 days or about 1.5 years.

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. But as yet another discovery of rocket planets that seem to show they are common throughout the universe, they are another sign that it could be more hospitable than we'd thought.

Researchers at the PRL believes that the discovery of such planets will help them to study the formation of sub-Neptune or sub-Saturn like planets.

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