The discovery of an Earth-like planet has taken astronomers not only behind our Solar System, but also behind the Milky Way Galaxy, and a new planet has raised hopes. Astronomers have discovered a super-Earth located in the habitable zone of their red dwarf star.
The only problem is that the planet keeps moving in and out of its habitable zone. However, it is still expected to retain water on its surface and could be an important target for future observations as the James Webb Space Telescope begins science operations.
Ross 508b was discovered by the Subaru Strategic Program using the Infrared Spectrograph (IRD) on the Subaru Telescope (IRD-SSP). The discovery is the result of a new focus on red dwarf stars, which comprise three-quarters of the stars in our galaxy and exist in large numbers around our solar system.
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living through habitable zone
The habitable zone is described as the distance from a star at which liquid water can exist on planetary surfaces. Also known as the Goldilocks zone, conditions may be suitable for life to flourish, meaning it will be neither too hot nor too cold. Ross 508 b orbits the star in its orbit through this Goldilocks zone.
A recently discovered exoplanet moves in and out of its star’s habitable zone. It is 37 light-years away from Earth and has about four times the mass of our planet, making Ross 508b a super-Earth. There, a year, one orbit, takes just 10.8 days! https://t.co/qmEDhIuS3A pic.twitter.com/MW7Cap45If
— NASA Exoplanets (@NASAExoplanets) 3 August 2022
The planet is located about 37 light-years away from Earth, around a star that is one-fifth the mass of the Sun. The planet itself is four times the mass of Earth and has an average distance of 0.05 times the Earth-Sun distance from its central star, and is at the inner edge of the habitable zone.
Researchers say that although red dwarfs are important targets for studying life in the universe, they are difficult to observe because they are so low in visible light. The surface temperature of these stars is less than 4000 degrees. The only other star with a habitable planet so far discovered is Proxima Centauri b.
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The planet is likely to have an elliptical orbit, so it will enter the habitable zone with an orbital period of about 11 days, the researchers said. “Current telescopes cannot directly image the planet because of its proximity to the central star. In the future, this will be one of the goals of life searches by 30-meter class telescopes,” the team said in a statement.
“It has been 14 years since the beginning of the development of the IRD. We have continued our development and research with the hope of finding a planet like Ross 508 b. We are committed to making new discoveries,” said Professor Bunei Sato, Principal Investigator of IRD-SSP said.
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