Discovery of a super-Earth in the habitable zone of a red dwarf

With such a vast universe “around us”, there may be a star that has in its habitable zone, where the temperatures are supported by life, as we know it, that could one day support humans on Earth. In this sense, a super-Earth planet has been found near the habitable zone of a red dwarf star only 37 light years from ours.

This is the first discovery of a new instrument in the Subaru Telescope and provides an opportunity to study the possibility of life on planets around nearby stars. With such a successful first result, we can expect the Subaru Telescope to discover other, potentially even better, candidates for habitable planets around red dwarfs.

Red dwarf stars in our neighborhood

Out of curiosity, the Sun is a 4.5 billion year old yellow dwarf. Roughly speaking, the sun is a g-type dwarf. Type of star hotter and brighter than a red dwarf or M-type. Thus, red dwarfs, stars smaller than the Sun, are responsible for three quarters of the stars in our galaxythe Milky Way, and are abundant in the vicinity around the Sun.

As such, they are important targets in the search for nearby extrasolar planets and extraterrestrial life. But red dwarfs are cold and don't emit much visible light compared to other types of stars, which makes them difficult to study.

At infrared wavelengths, red dwarfs are the brightest. Thus, the Astrobiology Center in Japan has developed an infrared observation instrument mounted on the Subaru Telescope look for signs of planets around red dwarf stars. The instrument is called IRD for Infrared Doppler, the observation method used in this investigation.

Illustration of detection by the planetary transit technique

Can a Super-Earth harbor such close life?

The first fruits of this new investigation are signs of a Super-Earth four times the mass of Earth surrounding the Earth. star ross 508located at 37 light years away already snake constellation.

This planet, Ross 508 b, has a year of just 11 Earth days and sits on the inner edge of the habitable zone around its host star.

Interestingly, there are indications that the orbit is elliptical, which would mean that for part of the orbit the planet would be in the habitable zone, the region where conditions would be conducive for water to exist. liquid on the surface of the planet. The existence of water or life are matters for further study.

Illustration of Super-Earth Ross 508 b around its star

To have the first planet discovered by this new method so close to the habitable zone seems too good to be true and bodes well for future discoveries. Bun'ei Sato, a professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology and principal investigator of this survey, commented:

14 years have passed since the beginning of the development of the IRD. We continued our development and research in hopes of finding a planet exactly like Ross 508 b.

With more sophisticated equipment, some planets could be discovered orbiting red stars. The planetary transit in these stars is more complicated to perceive.

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