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Explainer: Indian scientists discover exoplanet 600 light years from Earth

12 June 2018, 03:02 | Dale Webster

Representational Image YouTube Sci News

Representational Image YouTube SciNews

Christened the EPIC 211945201b, the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in Ahmedabad not only found a new planet in the deep recesses of space but was also able to measure its mass.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has a detailed report on how the scientists made the breakthrough.

According to a report by ISRO, the new planet is a sub-Saturn or super-Neptune sized planet around a Sun-like star, as reported by India Today. Significantly, the discovery was made using a PRL-designed spectrograph, PARAS, to measure and confirm the mass of the new planet. 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.




With this discovery, India has joined the list of a few countries that have discovered their own planets. Scientists have named this host star as EPIC 211945201 or K2-236 while the planet will be known as EPIC 211945201b or K2-236b. Researchers estimate that all newly discovered planets will have temperature tens of degrees higher than that of Earth due to the strong radiation they receive in close orbits to their stars. Kepler is the first NASA mission capable of detecting Earth-size planets, using the transit method or tiny dips in the brightness of a star when a planet crosses in front of it.

The PARAS is the first spectrograph of its kind in India. The total mass of these elements was calculated at about 60 to 70 percent of planet EPIC's total mass.

With the new planet's calculated orbit around its sun-like star, it is estimated that a year on this planet ends in about 19.5 days. These type of spectrographs exist mostly in the US and in the Europe that can do such precise measurements. Also, they are extremely far away. All these planets apparently do not reside in their stars' habitable zone as they are orbiting very close to their red dwarfs. This planet revolves around a Sun-like start in its solar system. And thus, the 1.2m telescope, PARAS, was put to use from the Gurushikhar Observatory in Mount Abu, Rajasthan.



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