In search of planets in the Universe that would be similar to the Earth (so-called “exoplanets”), astronomers discovered a celestial body that has the desired properties, but at the same time makes a complete revolution around its star in 3.14 days.
The planet was officially named K2-315b and was first spotted by NASA’s Kepler orbiting telescope during the 2017 K2 mission. Now scientists have refined its parameters using the SPECULOOS system, which combines four telescopes at the Paranal Observatory in Chile and one telescope at the Teide Observatory on the island of Tenerife.
Scientists estimate that the exoplanet has a radius of 0.95 times that of Earth, and its parent star EPIC 249 631 677 is about one-fifth the size of the Sun. K2-315b travels at 81 kilometers per second and orbits the star in exactly 3.14 days.
The researchers were so surprised by the coincidence of the period of the orbit with the mathematical constant pi, that they gave it the name “pi-planet”, enshrined in the name of the study.
The mass of the planet has not yet been determined, but scientists assume that it is close to Earth. Despite the fact that K2-315b is similar to Earth, life on it, according to the authors, is hardly possible: due to its proximity to the star, the temperature on its surface should reach 450 Kelvin, or plus 177 degrees Celsius.
“It’s too hot for conventional living,” – quoted in a press release from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as the first author of the article, Prajwal Niraula, a graduate student in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EASP).
At the same time, the authors do not exclude that the planet’s atmosphere may be suitable for life, if such exists. The researchers hope to clarify this question in the future with the help of the James Webb telescope. In this regard, K2-315b is an ideal candidate for study: due to the fact that its star has a small radius, the planet’s transit curves are deeper and more distinct.
The discovery was made possible by re-analyzing data from previous observations using more modern methods. The authors consider this approach to be very promising. Space telescopes such as Kepler or TESS allow continuous observations of tens of thousands of stars, while the ground-based SPECULOOS system can confirm potential exoplanets and refine their parameters.
“Now we know how to find and extract planets from archived data, and I hope that now there will be no unnoticed planets, especially such important ones,” Says another study author, Julien de Wit, an associate professor at EAPS and a fellow at the Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In the near future, the researchers plan to start analyzing data from the NASA TESS space telescope, developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and intended for the discovery of exoplanets by the transit method.
Earlier, “FACTS” wrote that the Nobel Prize winner explained why relocation to other planets is impossible.
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World news – US – Earth’s twin: astronomers have discovered an amazing exoplanet