They find two new rocky planets in the solar neighborhood, 33 light years away

They find two new rocky planets in the solar neighborhood, 33 light years away

File photo. / c7

Research has determined that both planets are super-earths, that is, planets like Earth, but larger.


An international collaboration of researchers, in which the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC) participates, has discovered two new super-Earths orbiting around a bright red dwarf star located
33 light years.

Both objects are among the rocky planets
closest known to date outside the solar system.

The results of the research are presented today Wednesday at the meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in Pasadena (California, United States).

These two new new exoplanets,
HD 260655 by HD 260655chave been detected with the help of NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), a space telescope designed to search for planets orbiting nearby bright stars using the transit method.

This method measures the decrease in brightness of a star when the planet crosses the stellar disk seen from the telescope, explains the IAC in a statement.

Research has determined that both planets are super-Earths, that is, planets like Earth, but larger.

Planet b is approximately
1.2 times larger than Earth and planet c,
1.5 times.

However, neither world is likely to support life. The temperature of planet b, the closest to the star, is estimated at 435 degrees Celsius, and planet c, at 284 degrees.

At 33 light-years away, the discovered exoplanets are relatively close together, in what is called the solar neighborhood, and their red dwarf star, although smaller than the Sun, is one of the brightest of its kind.

This makes the two planets ideal candidates for investigating their atmospheres.

According to E
he study, both planets are among the top ten candidates for atmospheric characterization among all terrestrial exoplanets discovered to date.

"This places them in the same category as one of the most famous planetary systems: the seven planets similar in size to Earth that surround the star TRAPPIST-1", explains Rafael Luque, a researcher at the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC ) and the University of Chicago who led the study.

These and other rocky exoplanets are already on the watch list for the James Webb Space Telescope, which will soon show its first science images.

This telescope will be able to capture data on starlight through the atmospheres of these planets.

Said light can break down into its different frequencies (spectrum) and reveal the "fingerprints" of the molecules within the atmosphere itself, being able to detect water, carbon and other essential components for life, detail the
CAR sources.

To confirm the existence of the two new planets, in addition to the observations made by TESS, the scientific team has also used ground-based instrumentation, such as the CARMENES spectrographs from the Calar Alto Observatory (Almería, Spain) and HIRES from the WM Keck Observatory (Mauna Kea). , Hawaii).

These instruments have made it possible to measure the
Star "wobble" caused by gravitational pulls of orbiting planets (radial velocity), which gives information about their masses. Combining these measurements, it has also been possible to determine the density and confirm that they are rocky worlds.

Although it is still unknown whether either of the two super-Earths has an atmosphere and, if so, what it is made of, the combined data from the different observational studies suggest that the planets do not have dense hydrogen atmospheres.

But for the scientific team it is just an interesting clue that encourages further investigation.

"Learning more about the atmospheres of rocky planets will help scientists understand the formation and development of worlds like ours," Luque concludes.

The work has been accepted for publication in the scientific journal
'Astronomy & Astrophysics'.

Víctor Sánchez Béjar, Enric Pallé, Giuseppe Morello and Jaume Orell have collaborated in this research on behalf of the IAC.

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