ISRO’s PRL scientists discover an ‘EPIC’ planet

Scientists Discover New Planet'EPIC 211945201 600 Light Years Away at Mount Abu Observatory

Exoplanet

Now, India has joined the group of countries that have discovered planets around stars.

The Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) and the University of Oviedo presented the discovery of two new planetary systems, one of them hosting three planets with the same size of the Earth.

A scientific team lead by Professor Abhijit Chakraborty of Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad has made a remarkable discovery. Scientists have named the host star as EPIC 211945201 or K2-236 and the planet as EPIC 211945201b or K2-236b.

It's estimated to be more than seven times closer to its star than we are, which means a year lasts just roughly 19.5 days. "Very few such spectrographs exist around the world (mostly in the US and in the Europe) that can do such precise measurements", the space agency said on its website late on June 8. The PRL scientists observed the target for around 420 days for probing the nature of the system using the PARAS spectrograph. The discovery was made by measuring the mass of the planet using the indigenously designed "PRL Advance Radial-velocity Abu-sky Search" (PARAS) spectrograph integrated with 1.2m Telescope at PRL's Gurushikhar Observatory in Mount Abu, India.

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PRL, described as the cradle of space sciences in India, conducts fundamental research in a host of physical sciences including astronomy and space. The detection also adds to a sparse catalogue of 22 other confirmed exoplanet systems that have a mass and radius in this range, ISRO said.

It is being reported that when it comes to the temperature of the three planets that are the same size as Earth, this is where the similarity ends as they would nearly certainly have surface temperatures that are much higher than our planet owing to the intense radiation given by the red dwarf star they orbit. The team found the planet to be smaller in size than Saturn and bigger than Neptune. Ice, silicates and iron content make up 60 per cent to 70 per cent of the total mass. Also, they are extremely far away.

Researchers at the PRL believes that the discovery of such planets will help them to study the formation of sub-Neptune or sub-Saturn like planets. But as yet another discovery of rocket planets that seem to show they are common throughout the universe, they are another sign that it could be more hospitable than we'd thought.

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