Space Research

ISRO scientists discover planet measuring six times the radius of Earth

A team of Indian scientists has reportedly discovered a sub-Saturn exoplanet that revolves around a Sun-like star estimated to be about 600 light-years away from Earth.

According to the research team led by Abhijit Chakraborty from the Physical Research Laboratory in Ahmedabad, India, the newly discovered planet is a sub-Saturn or super-Neptune size exoplanet that weighs about 27 times the mass of Earth and measures six times the radius of Earth. Interestingly, the planet takes only 19.5 days to complete one revolution around its parent star.

The research team has named the new planet as EPIC 211945201b or K2-236b after its host star, EPIC 211945201 or K2-236, according to a statement released by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The planet is expected to be roughly more than seven times closer to its star compared to the Earth-sun distance. Its closeness to the host star also implies that the temperature on the planet could be around 600 degrees Celsius, which is likely too hot and dry to support any form of life.

Notably, NASA’s K2 space observatory first spotted the astronomical body on its radar. The Indian researchers then observed the astronomical body for around one and a half year studying the changes in light coming from the planet’s host star and performing an independent confirmation of its mass.

They used a tool called the PRL Advance Radial-velocity Abu-sky Search or PARAS spectrograph integrated with a 1.2m telescope from the Gurushikhar Observatory in Mount Abu, Rajasthan, to achieve exact measurements of the EPIC planet in terms of mass, surface temperature and atmospheric conditions. The scientists claim that ice, iron and other heavy elements account for 60-70 percent of the planet’s mass.

The newly discovered planet is one of 22 other confirmed exoplanet systems with the same dimensions. Scientists are hopeful that this discovery could help them understand how these types of planets form so close to their host star.

More details about the newly discovered planet have been published in The Astronomical Journal.

About the author

Megha Kedia

Megha Kedia

Megha is a seasoned reporter with over six years of experience covering news in technology, science and related fields. At The Space News, Megha covers space research & technology news.

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