The discovery of this unusual planet has been made by a team of Indian scientists. This is the first time they have found a planet that orbits a star very similar to the Sun. Those responsible for the finding are a group of scientists from the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in Ahmedabad, India.
The planet has been dubbed EPIC 211945201b or K2-236b and is quite large, about 27 times more massive than Earth. This discovery places India among the small group of countries that confirm the existence of a planet outside our solar system.
Locating exoplanets is no longer an extraordinary event in our days. In fact, it has already confirmed the existence of more than 3,700, however, the vast majority (about 2,600) have been detected and confirmed by NASA’s Kepler space telescope.
This newly discovered planet was also detected by Kepler as a possible planet candidate, but it was a team of Indian scientists who effectively confirmed that it was a planet, instead of just a comet or other astronomical object (which is the difficult part).
The experts spent a year and a half at the Gurushikhar Observatory of the PRL in Mount Abu, India, to study the changes in light coming from the host star of the planet, EPIC 211945201 or K2-236, and in making an independent confirmation of its mass .
“We present here strong evidence of a sub Saturn around EPIC 211945201 and confirm its planetary nature ,” the team reports in The Astronomical Journal which collects the study.
Characteristics of the new planet
– The planet orbits a Sun- like star, but it is more than seven times closer to its star than Sun Earth, which means that the temperature could be about 600 ° C and probably too hot and dry to sustain life.
– As a consequence, a year on this planet lasts approximately 19.5 days.
– It has a mass about 27 times that of the Earth and it is estimated that its radius is six times higher.
– The planet orbits a star similar to the Sun at 600 light years away.
“However, the photometric data of K2 combined with false positive probability calculations were not enough to confirm the planetary nature of the system.” Therefore, an independent measurement of body mass was necessary for the discovery, which was made by the PARAS spectrograph“, the authors comment.
Although there is little chance of finding signs of life in K2-236b, astronomers say their discovery is very significant because it can help astronomers discover more details about how planets of this class (super- Neptune or sub-Saturn) are able to form so close to its host star.