Cosmic Rival? Astronomers Spot Enigmatic System with Three Earth-Size Planets

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A scientific team lead by Professor Abhijit Chakraborty of Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad has made a remarkable discovery.

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. Orbited by two super-earths that are larger than the size of our planet two times, and mass - five. The star's effective temperature is estimated at 3,450 Kelvin degrees, which is almost one and a half times less than that of the sun. The team found the planet to be smaller in size than Saturn and bigger than Neptune.

It's estimated to be more than seven times closer to its star than we are, which means a year lasts just roughly 19.5 days. The newly-found planet is reportedly 600 light years away from the Earth, and its mass is around 27 times that of the Earth. Such a high temperature might make it uninhabitable for living creatures.

The indigenously designed spectrograph named PRL Advance Radial-velocity Abu-Sky Search (PARAS) integrated with a 1.2-metre telescope at PRL's Gurushikar Observatory in Mount Abu aided the researchers in finding the exoplanet.

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On the other hand, only a few such accurate and powerful spectrographs exist around the world, the majority of which being in the U.S. and Europe. The name of the star is EPIC 211945201 or K2-236 and the planet is EPIC 211945201b or K2-236b.

However, calculations suggest that the heavy elements, ice, silicates, and iron content are 60-70 % of the total mass. The PRL scientists observed the target for around 420 days for probing the nature of the system using the PARAS spectrograph. The discovery of the planet is important in understanding the formation of similar super-Neptune or sub-Saturn kind of planets, that are too close to the host star, the statement said. Now, a trio of new rocky worlds has been discovered orbiting a distant star, and while they're a lot like Earth in terms of size, they're a bit steamier.

The first exoplanet was discovered in the early 1990s. According to a report, more than 3400 exoplanets have been discovered.