The research paper details the methods undertaken by the astronomers to identify the Super-Earth and to understand the system in which the planet exists.
Rare Super-Earth discovered! The University of Canterbury (UC), New Zealand, has released a statement that two university astronomers, along with an international team, have discovered a rare new Super-Earth planet, which is found towards the centre of the galaxy. Adding that the planet is an incredibly rare one, the UC statement states that the discovered planet is one of the handful discovered planetary bodies which can be compared with the Earth in terms of its size and orbit.
The research of the astronomers has been published in The Astronomical Journal and has been accessed by Financial Express Online. The research paper details the methods undertaken by the astronomers to identify the Super-Earth and to understand the system in which the planet exists. The paper has been led by Dr Antonio Herrera Martin of UC’s School of Physical and Chemical Sciences.
The statement quoted Dr Herrera Martin as saying that it took the team five days to examine the magnification of the planet due to its host star. The planet in itself was detected during a five-hour distortion. He added that the team obtained the star-planet system only after confirming that the distortion was caused by a planetary body separate from the star.
The statement added that the host star of the Super-Earth’s system has about 10% the mass of our Sun, while the planet could have a mass between the Earth’s mass and that of Neptune. It added that the planet would orbit at a radius anywhere between that of Venus and Earth in our solar system. The statement further said that due to the lower mass of that system’s host star, the Super-Earth would have an year that would last approximately 617 days.
The planet was discovered through a method called gravitational microlensing, which has been explained by Dr Herrera Martin in the statement. He said that the combined gravitational pull of the Super-Earth and its host star magnified the light from a distant background star in a particular way and to understand and measure that light-bending effect, the researchers used telescopes from all across the world.
He was further quoted as saying that only one in a million stars in the galaxy are affected by the microlensing effect at any given time, highlighting the rarity of the event. Moreover, he added, the observations of this kind are not repeated and the discovery of a planet at the same time is also a very rare occurrence.