Indian scientists discover exoplanet 600 light years away
The newly-found exoplanet is larger than Neptune, but smaller than Saturn, with around 27 times the mass of Earth and six times the radius of our planet.
June 08, 2018 / 09:11 PM IST
Scientists, from the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) at Ahmedabad have put India in the elite league of countries who have discovered planets around stars. Researchers at the Indian Lab have discovered an exoplanet (a planet outside our solar system), larger than Neptune but smaller than Saturn, around 600 light years away from Earth. The exoplanet is around 27 times the mass of Earth and has six times the radius of our planet.
According to a Times of India report, scientists at PRL designed a spectrograph called PARAS (PRL Advance Radial-velocity Abu-Sky Search). This is the first of its kind spectrograph in the country, which can measure the mass of a planet moving around a star. They integrated the spectrograph with a 1.2m telescope at PRL’s Gurushikar Observatory in Mount Abu, to measure the mass of the planet, leading to the discovery.
In a post on its website, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said that the name of the planet is EPIC 211945201b or K2-236b. It was also observed that K2-236b completed an orbit around the central star in 19.5 days. It is seven times closer to the star as compared to the distance between the Earth and the Sun. The temperature of the surface of the newly-found planet is around 600 degrees Celsius.
While the heat on the planet makes it uninhabitable, its discovery is important to help understand "the formation mechanism of such super-Neptune or sub-Saturn kind of planets that are too close to the host star." There are only 23 systems known to scientists (including this discovery) where the mass of the exoplanet is between 10-70 times that of the Earth and the radius of 4-8 times the radius of Earth.
ISRO said on its website: "...research work will appear in the June issue of the Astronomical Journal owned by the American Astronomical Society and published by IOP Publishing."