Scientists discover a frozen super-earth just six light years away


A new study report published in the journal Nature has revealed that scientists have discovered a frozen super-earth just six light years away from earth. The newly discovered exoplanet is orbiting Barnard's star, the closest solitary neighbor to the sun.

Even though this frozen neighbor might not be too hospitable, experts believe that such discoveries could be proving the existence of plentiful numbers of planets beyond the solar system. The new finding makes it clear that most of the stars in the sky might have at least one world orbiting them, and it clearly indicates that humans might not be alone in this vast universe.

During the research, scientists made use of a technique named the radial velocity method to spot this planet. Radical velocity method uses sensitive instruments to detect tiny wobbles of the star usually generated by the orbiting planet's gravity.

"After a very careful analysis, we are over 99 percent confident that the planet is there," said Ignasi Ribas, a top scientist at Spain's Institute of Space Studies and the lead author of the study, Reuters reports.

This newly discovered planet dubbed 'Barnard's star b' is touted to be the second closest exoplanet to the solar system. Earlier, astronomers have spotted another exoplanet orbiting the three-star Proxima Centauri system.

Initial analysis reveals that Barnard's star b has three times the mass of the earth, and it has a temperature of around -150 Degree Celsius. As per researchers, this planet might be dimly lit by its star, and there will be no liquid water on its surface, as it is basically an icy desert.

Even though the planet orbits Barnard's star much closer than the earth does to the sun, the temperature there is very low as the red dwarf star itself emits only about 0.4% of our sun's radiance. Barnard's star which falls in the class of M dwarf stars is much cooler and less dense than the sun.

A few months back, a team of Indian researchers discovered an exoplanet that revolves around its host star around 600 light years away from earth. Interestingly, a year in this exoplanet is equal to 19.5 earth days due to its closeness to its star.

This article was first published on November 15, 2018
Related topics : Exoplanet