Astronomers Studying 'Super-Earth' Exoplanet Find A Bonus Planet

Astronomers Studying 'Super-Earth' Exoplanet Find A Bonus Planet

Astronomers Studying 'Super-Earth' Exoplanet Find A Bonus Planet

Astronomers have discovered not one but two super-Earths surrounding the star K2-18, a red-dwarf located 111 light-years from Earth. The planet's rocky structure and distance from its star, making it an essential candidate for life as we understand it.

Researchers at the Centre for Planetary Sciences have found that K2-18b could very well be a scaled-up version of Earth. "Things that are between the size of Earth and Neptune are more common than Earths and more common than Neptunes".

Using a machine-learning approach the researchers were able to determine that K2-18b was either a rocky planet with a bigger gaseous atmosphere than Earth or a water planet with a thick layer of ice on top of it.

Researchers at University of Toronto in Canada made the discovery by scouring data collected by the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

The dataset used by Cloutier, the lead author, and other researchers came from the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) using the ESO's 3.6-metre telescope at La Silla Observatory, in Chile. When we finally decide to make the move, a planet called K2-18b might be our destination. The exoplanet known as K2-18b has been described as a potential "Super-Earth".

The team of researchers say the distant K2-18 star system could be Earth's scaled up version or Super Earth.

While K2-18b and its newly discovered super-Earth nextdoor, K2-18c, are both roughly the same mass as Earth, their similarites may end there.

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"If you can get the mass and radius, you can measure the bulk density of the planet and that can tell you what the bulk of the planet is made of", quoted Cloutier as saying.

"With the current data, we can't distinguish between those two possibilities", said Cloutier. K2-18b offers a unique chance for research when NASA's James Webb Space Telescope will launch in 2019.

It also turns away from his own sun that can accommodate life, water on its surface, that is, from where everything begins.

Study co-author Professor René Doyon, also from the University of Montreal, added: "There's a lot of demand to use this telescope, so you have to be meticulous in choosing which exoplanets to look at".

The James Webb Space Telescope is supposed to be a successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, and just recently it finished its test that took place in a frigidly cold chamber. Sitting too close to its star, meaning the surface is probably too hot to support life.

The Canadian-made Near-InfraRed Imager and Slitless Spectograph (NIRISS) is specifically created to probe the atmospheres of exoplanets, and Doyon said that K2-18 is at the top of the list.

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