An international team of astrophysicists has discovered a new exoplanet in the orbit of the Star of Barnard, only six light years away from the earth. The corresponding research was published days ago in the journal Nature.
"Barnard is the isolated star closest to the solar system, only Alfa Centauri, which is a threefold system, is getting closer," said one of the people responsible for the study, Ignasi Ribas, of the Institute for Space Science of the CSIC and the Institute for Space Studies in Catalonia, Spain.
The new supertierra is at least 3.2 times as large as our planet and it takes about 233 days to circle around Barnard. It is, however, located outside the habitable zone of its host star, a red dwarf with low mass, which hardly illuminates this exoplanet.
"It's an icy world because it receives very little energy from its star, fifty times less than the earth gets from the sun," said Ribas.
Temperatures in the & # 39; supertierra & # 39; can drop to 170 degrees below zero, making it unlikely that there will be water and thus some form of life on the planet.
But "life sometimes finds capable ways to survive", emphasized the astrophysicist.
In their research, the researchers used the Harps planetary hunter and the Uves spectrograph from the European Southern Observatory (ESO, for the acronym in English).
"Harps played a crucial role in this project: File data from other equipment was combined with new and overlapping measurements of the Barnard star from different facilities," said another head of the study, Guillem Anglada Escudé, from Queen Mary University in London .
More than 20 years of observation
The finding is part of the large-scale Red Dots and CARMENES projects, devoted to the search for planets in the vicinity of the solar system. The researchers collected all observations since the 1990s.
"This discovery represents a significant advance in the search for exoplanets around our star neighbors, hoping to find one that provides the right conditions to save lives," said a co-author of the newspaper, Cristina Rodríguez-López.
Focused on extraterrestrial life
So far the American space agency has discovered a large variety of planets in the Melkweg.
Astronomers added that their telescopes become more sensitive, allowing the new equipment to focus on the search. Now the agency hopes that the next generation of telescopes will be able to absorb more evidence of habitability.
For example, NASA has already discovered some rocky planets that may contain liquid water, but the existing scientific tools still do not allow to verify whether these planets have an atmosphere or oceans.
Successor of Kepler
Meanwhile, future research tools can analyze the light emitted by the planet to know if it has water reserves and a mixture of gases similar to that of Earth's atmosphere.
One of the instruments that have contributed most to the search for exoplanets, distinguishes the ESA satellite, Gaia, which was responsible for assembling a 3D map of the Milky Way and the Kepler NASA telescope.
The latter helped discover about 2,600 exoplanets from the 3,700 ever found.
Last fall, the NASA TESS satellite was launched into space and began the quest for exoplanets. The device became a successor to Kepler, which ran for several years until it broke.
Source: Sputnik News