Astronomers Discovered an Earth-Sized Exoplanet Just 72 Light Years Away

Astronomers estimate that there are billions of exoplanets in the milky way Galaxy, of which we have only discovered a few numbers of them. An international team of researchers recently discovered an earth-sized exoplanet while searching for transit of exoplanets in our home galaxy.

This international team of researchers specifically focuses on searching for exoplanets that pass their host star’s face from our view. In their recent observations, they spotted an Earth-sized planet that is located about 72 light years away from Earth. The team named the planet K2-415b as it orbits around a nearby red dwarf star known as K2-415. How did the researchers come up with this discovery? Continue reading to learn more.

How Researchers discovered an Earth-sized Exoplanet just 72 light years away

The team of scientists that participated in this study used already existing data to conduct their research. They studied the data provided by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, its secondary mission K2 and the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and spotted the exoplanet in the process.

Even though astronomers have previously discovered other exoplanets that are much closer to Earth, K2-415b still remains one of our closest neighbors based on a cosmic scale. During an interview session with Space.com, Teruyuki Hirano of the Graduate University for Advanced Studies (SOKENDAI) in Japan, who served as the lead author of this finding shared his opinion about the latest discovery.

“The K2-415 system is unique in that K2-415 is one of the coolest, or lowest-mass, stars known to host an exoplanet,” Teruyuki Hirano revealed to Space.com.

Based on our recent discoveries, scientists were able to discover only four stars that are cooler than K2-415 which are known to host at least one exoplanet around their orbit. One of these stars is the popular TRAPPIST-1, with about seven known exoplanets around its orbit.

“One motivation for investigating the planets around such low-mass stars is to understand and clarify whether those planets form and evolve just like the planets around solar-type stars,” said Hirano.

Why K2-415 Has remained a Unique Star

Unlike stars like our sun, k2-415 belongs to the class of red dwarf stars which are far cooler and smaller. The surface of this star is assumed to have a temperature of about 5,250 degrees Fahrenheit (2,900 degrees Celsius). This temperature is quite cooler when compared with our sun with about 9,900 degrees Fahrenheit (5,480 degree Celsius).

Is K2-415b Habitable?

Despite being referred to as an Earth-sized planet, K2-415b is not in the goldilocks zone of its star. In fact, the exoplanet does not orbit its host star in a region where liquid water can exist on its surface. K2-415b maintains an extremely close distance from its host star, K2-415. The distance separating the two celestial bodies is so close that it takes the exoplanet about four Earth days to complete an orbit around its host star.

“But there is a possibility that there is another planet lurking in the system that sits inside the habitable zone,” said Hirano.

What more did the scientists learn about K2-415b?

Based on the scientific observations conducted on this exoplanet, scientists were only able to learn a few features about it. They realize that the earth-sized exoplanet has a radius of about 1.015 times that of Earth.

However, Hirano still hopes that further studies on K2-415b will enable scientists to learn more about its mass and internal structures. The team published the paper for this discovery in the Astronomical Journal.

Conclusion

The discovery of K2-415b is a sign that we still have several billion Earth-size exoplanets to discover in the future. What do you think about this fascinating scientific discovery?

Spread the love

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *