/Alien Super-Earth Planet Discovered Just 26 Light Years Away – Probably Has an Atmosphere

Alien Super-Earth Planet Discovered Just 26 Light Years Away – Probably Has an Atmosphere

Summary: Trifon Trifonov, an astronomer at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy at Heidelberg (Germany), and his team discovered of a hot super-Earth in orbit around a nearby red dwarf star Gliese 486, only 26 light years from the Sun.

Original author and publication date: Instituto De Astrofísica De Canarias – March 4, 2021

Futurizonte Editor’s Note: It is time to accept the paradigm that we are not alone in the Universe.

From the article:

During the past 25 years astronomers have discovered a wide variety of exoplanets, made of rock, ice, and gas, thanks to the construction of astronomical instruments designed specifically for planet searches. Also, using a combination of different observing techniques they have been able to determine a large number of masses, sizes, and hence densities of the planets, which helps them to estimate their internal composition and raising the number of planets which have been discovered outside the Solar System.

However, to study the atmospheres of the rocky planets, which would make it possible to characterize fully those exoplanets which are similar to Earth, is extremely difficult with currently available instruments. For that reason, the atmospheric models for rocky planets are still not tested.

So it is interesting that the astronomers in the CARMENES (Calar Alto high- Resolution search for M dwarfs with Exoearths with Near-infrared and optical échelle Spectrographs), consortium in which the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC) is a partner, have recently published a study, led by Trifon Trifonov, an astronomer at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy at Heidelberg (Germany), about the discovery of a hot super-Earth in orbit around a nearby red dwarf star Gliese 486, only 26 light years from the Sun.

To do this the scientists used the combined techniques of transit photometry and radial velocity spectroscopy, and used, among others, observations with the instrument MuSCAT2 (Multicolour Simultaneous Camera for studying Atmospheres of Transiting exoplanets) on the 1.52m Carlos Sánchez Telescope at the Teide Observatory. The results of this study have been published in the journal Science.

The planet they discovered, named Gliese 486b, has a mass 2.8 times that of the Earth, and is only 30% bigger.

“Calculating its mean density from the measurements of its mass and radius we infer that its composition is similar to that of Venus or the Earth, which have metallic nuclei inside them,” explains Enric Pallé, an IAC researcher and a co-author of the article.

Gliese 486b orbits its host star on a circular path every 1.5 days, at a distance of 2.5 million kilometers. In spite of being so near to its star, the planet has probably conserved part of its original atmosphere (the star is much cooler than our Sun) so that it is a good candidate to observe in more detail with the next generation of space and ground telescopes.

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Future Astrophysics