For the first time, India joined a select group of countries which have found planets around stars with the discovery of what is known as a sub-Saturn or super-Neptune-sized planet having a radius that is six times that of earth, Isro announced on Friday.
The path-breaking discovery was made by a team led by Abhijit Chakraborty of the Ahmedabad-based Physical Research Laboratory. The newly discovered planet was found around a Sun-like star, according to Isro. It goes around the star in about 19.5 days.
The discovery was made by measuring the mass of the planet using the indigenously designed ‘PRL Advance Radial-velocity Abu-sky Search’ (PARAS) spectrograph, integrated with a 1.2m telescope at PRL’s Gurushikhar Observatory in Mount Abu. This is the first of its kind spectrograph in the country, which can measure the mass of a planet going around a star.
Isro said very few such spectrographs exist around the world (mostly in the US and Europe) that can do such precise measurements.
Chakraborty said the new planet, which is 600 light years away from Earth, was between the size of Saturn and Neptune. “It is closer to Neptune,” he said, pointing out that the new planet had 27 times the mass of Earth and six times its radius.
The surface temperature of the new planet is around 600°C as it is very close to the host star.This might make it uninhabitable, but such a discovery is of importance for understanding the formation mechanism of such super-Neptune or sub-Saturn kind of planets that are too close to the host star.
Here are the top facts about the new found discovery by Indian scientists:
– The sub-Saturn or super-Neptune size planet has the mass of about 27 Earth.
– Physically, EPIC 211945201b or K2-236b’s radius is sis times that of Earth,
– EPIC 211945201b or K2-236b revolves around a Sun-like star which is around 600 light years away from our planet Earth.
– The planet completes one revolution around its host star in about 19.5 days.
– As per the initial recordings, the surface temperature of the planet is around 600°C. This is due to the close proximity of the planet to its host star. The planet is seven times nearer to its star as compared to the Earth-Sun distance. Naturally, the close proximity to its host star makes the planet inhabitable.
– The discovery of such a planet is important to understand the mechanism of how such super-Neptune or sub-Saturn kind of planets are formed which are close to its host star.
– Scientists have been able to deduce what elements may be found on the newly discovered planet. Based on the mass and radius, model-dependent calculations heavy elements, such as ice, silicates, and iron content is what makes at least 60-70% of the total mass.