Tech UPTechnologySpanish scientists detect a super-earth just 36 light years...

Spanish scientists detect a super-earth just 36 light years away

A team of researchers from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias specialized in the search for red dwarfs has discovered one of them in which a super-earth orbits. It’s called GJ 740 . It is three times larger than Earth and is only 36 light years distant from Earth, very close to us.

“This is the planet with the second shortest orbital period around this type of star. The mass and period suggest a rocky planet, with a radius of about 1.4 Earth radii, which could be confirmed in future observations with the TESS satellite “, explains Borja Toledo Padrón, leader of the work published by the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

The researchers also found evidence of a second planet in the system, roughly the size of Saturn, that orbits the red dwarf star once every nine years.

Looking for planets in cold stars

Small movements of the stars caused by the gravitational pull of the planets can provide evidence for exoplanets; it is a technique known as radial velocity. This method is based on the detection of small variations in the speed of a star due to the gravitational attraction of a planet orbiting around it, using spectroscopic observations. Let us remember that since the discovery in 1998 of the first radial velocity signal of an exoplanet around a cold star, a total of 116 exoplanets have been discovered around this type of stars and with this specific search method.

Evidence for this second planet, collected by measuring the star’s radial velocity, could be caused by the star’s magnetic field itself, not by a planet.

“The main difficulty of this method is related to the intense magnetic activity of this type of stars, which can produce spectroscopic signals very similar to those due to an exoplanet “, explains Jonay I. González Hernández, a researcher at the IAC.

The planet orbits its star with a period of 2.4 days and, because the star is so close to the Sun and the planet so close to the star, this new super Earth could be the subject of future research with large diameter telescopes as soon as towards the end of this decade. At the moment, more data is needed to confirm that the signal is actually due to that of a planet.

This detection was possible thanks to a six-year observation campaign with HARPS-N, from the HADES project , complemented by measurements with the CARMENES spectrograph at the 3.5 m telescope at the Calar Alto Observatory (Almería) and HARPS, in the 3.6 m telescope at the La Silla Observatory (Chile), among other instruments.




Reference: B. Toledo-Padrón, A. Suárez Mascareño, JI González Hernández, R. Rebolo, M. Pinamonti, M. Perger, G. Scandariato, M. Damasso, A. Sozzetti, J. Maldonado, S. Desidera, I Ribas, G. Micela, L. Affer, E. González-Alvarez, G. Leto, I. Pagano, R. Zanmar Sánchez, P. Giacobbe, E. Herrero, JC Morales, PJ Amado, JA Caballero, A. Quirrenbach , A. Reiners, M. Zechmeister. A super-Earth on a close-in orbit around the M1V star GJ 740. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 2021; 648: A20 DOI: 10.1051 / 0004-6361 / 202040099

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