A team of scientists from Ahmedabad’s Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), has reportedly spotted a sub-Saturn or super-Neptune size planet revolving around a Sun-like star about 600 light years away.
According to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the planet will be called EPIC 211945201b or K2-236b. The host star is named EPIC 211945201 or K2-236. With the latest discovery, India has now entered the list of countries which have discovered planets around stars.
The newly discovered planet, which is smaller in size compared to Saturn and bigger than Neptune, has a mass of about 27 times that of the Earth and a radius six times. The scientists observed the target for more than 420 days or about 1.5 years. They observed the light emitting from the host star and took note of the changes in its wavelength to conclude the existence of a planet.
The research team, led by Prof Abhijit Chakraborty, made the discovery by measuring the planet’s mass with the help of the “PRL Advance Radial-velocity Abu-sky Search” (PARAS) spectrograph integrated with a 1.2 m Telescope at PRL’s Gurushikhar Observatory in Mount Abu.
Notably, PARAS is the first of its kind spectrograph in Asia which can measure the mass of a planet going around a star. There are currently very few spectrographs in the world that can do such precise measurements.
As the surface temperature of K2-236b is around 600 degrees Celsius, it’s not very likely that it’ll be able to sustain life. The research team has estimated that over 60 percent of the planet’s mass could be made up of heavy elements like ice, silicates, and iron.
Scientists are hopeful that the discovery will help them understand how such super-Neptune or sub-Saturn kind of planets that are too close to the host star are formed.
The research finding has appeared online in Astronomical Journal of the American Astronomical Society.