Toronto: A new exoplanet which is two times the size of Earth has been discovered by an international team of Canadian, American and German researchers using data from NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope. The exoplanet ‘Wolf 503b’ which lies in the Virgo constellation is about 145 light years away.
Bjorn Benneke, Professor at the Universite de Montreal in Canada explained,”‘Wolf 503b’ is one of the only planets with a radius near the gap that has a star which is bright enough to be amenable to more detailed study that will better constrain its true nature.”
For every six days, the exoplanet ‘Wolf 503b’ orbits its star. Thus the new planet is about 10 times closer to its star than Mercury is to Sun.
Bjorn Benneke added, “It provides a key opportunity to better understand the origin of this radius gap as well as the nature of the intriguing populations of ‘super-Earths’ and ‘sub-Neptunes’ as a whole.”
Astronomers obtained a spectrum of the host star at the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility so that they could find out the system that belongs to ‘Wolf 503b’. Soon after that, the scientists confirmed the host star as an old “orange dwarf” which is two times older than the Sun yet less luminous.
According to a paper published in the Astronomical Journal, the researchers had precisely determined the radius of the star and its companion. Since the ‘Wolf 503b’ system is relatively close to Earth, the planet is very bright.
Merrin Peterson, a graduate student at the varsity, said, “By investigating the nature of ‘Wolf 503b’, we’ll understand more about the structure of planets near the radius gap and more generally about the diversity of exoplanets present in our galaxy.”
(With IANS inputs)