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Super-Earth’ found orbiting Sun’s nearest single star

Super-Earth’ found orbiting Sun’s nearest single star

News:

  1. Astronomers have discovered a frozen planet with a mass over three times that of the Earth, orbiting the closest solitary star to the Sun.

Important Facts:

  1. The potentially rocky planet, known as Barnard’s star b, is a ‘super-Earth’ and orbits around its host star once every 233 days, said researchers from Queen Mary University of London in the UK.
  2. The findings, published in the journal Nature, show the planet lies at a distant region from the star known as the ‘snow line’.
  3. This is well beyond the habitable zone in which liquid water, and possibly life, could exist, researchers said.
  4. About Barnard’s Star :
  • Named for astronomer E. E. Barnard, Barnard’s Star is the closest single star to the Sun. While the star itself is ancient probably twice the age of our Sun.
  • Barnard’s Star is a red dwarf, a small and cooling star and produces relatively little light making it hard to discern any bodies in its orbit.
  • At nearly six light-years away Barnard’s star is the next closest star to the Sun after the Alpha Centauri triple system.
  • It is at least 3.2 times heavier than Earth and is the second nearest to Earth outside the solar system.
  • Despite being relatively close to its parent star, the planet receives less than two per cent of the energy Earth gets from the Sun.
  • Researchers estimates that it has a surface temperature of -170 degrees Celsius (-274 Fahrenheit) which makes it inhospitable.
  • It’s thought that Barnard’s Star is tearing through space at around 500,000 km/h, making it the fastest moving known object in the universe.
  1. Radial velocity method:
  • The researchers used the radial velocity method during the observations that led to the discovery of Barnard’s star b.
  • This technique detects wobbles in a star which are likely to be caused by the gravitational pull of an orbiting planet.
  • These wobbles affect the light coming from the star.
  • As the star moves towards the Earth its spectrum appears slightly shifted towards the blue and, as it moves away, it is shifted towards the red.
  • This is the first time that this technique has been used to detect a planet this small so far away from its host star.
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