(Credit: NASA Goddard/Robert Simmon (Earth), NASA / JPL (Neptune))
An exoplanet two times the size of Earth, known as Wolf 503b, is found just 145 light years from our planet.
The researchers noted that Wolf 503b is interesting not only because of its size (it can potentially be a “Super-Earth”), but also because the job — it revolves around the star once every six days.
An exoplanet is a planet outside our solar system.
“Wolf 503b is one of the few planets with a radius in the vicinity of the hole is a star that is bright enough to borrow for a more detailed study that will better constrain its true nature,” said Björn Benneke, a UdeM professor, in a statement. “It provides an important opportunity to better understand the origin of this radius gap and the nature of the intriguing populations of super-Earths and sub-Neptunes’ as a whole.”
PLANET NINE AND THE OTHER SIX MIND-BOGGLING SPACE MYSTERIES SCIENTISTS CAN’T EXPLAIN
The findings were published in a study conducted by the American, Canadian and German researchers. Merrin Peterson, a graduate student of the Institute for research on exoplanets, is the lead author of the study.
The new exoplanet was found using data from NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, which is a further confirmation that most of the planets in the Milky way are approximately the same size as Wolf 503b.
“Because there is nothing like them in our solar system by astronomers wonder if these planets are small and rocky ‘super-Earths’ or gaseous mini-versions of Neptune,” the statement added.
Wolf 503b in the vicinity of the Earth makes it brighter than the other objects in the air. Given the brightness, researchers hope to next look at the mass of the planet, which could tell us something about the composition.
PLANET NINE CAN EXIST, BUT IT COULD BE HIDING BEHIND NEPTUNE
If it has a composition similar to the Earth, it would have to have a bulk density of about 14 times the mass. If it like Neptune, with an atmosphere largely out of gas, “it would be about the half of massive,” the researchers said.
The program used for the identification of Wolf 503b also discovered that the star is an orange dwarf means that it is not as bright as our Sun, but twice as old. Peterson said that the discovery and confirmation of the new exoplanet, “very fast”, referring to the most recent version of the Kepler Q2 data.
Due to the proximity of the Earth, the Wolf, 503, the star Wolf 503b jobs, will be a “prime target” for the James Webb Space Telescope, which will help determine the atmosphere of the planet and see if it contains one of the building blocks for life, including hydrogen, and water.
ALIEN LIFE IS AHEAD? NEWLY DISCOVERED EXOPLANET IS BEST CANDIDATE, EXPERTS SAY
“By examining the nature of the Wolf 503b, we understand more about the structure of the planets in the vicinity of the radius gap and, more generally, about the diversity of exoplanets that exist in our galaxy,” says Peterson. “I look forward to learning more about it.”
The find is the latest in a series of new planet discoveries. In February 2017, an international team of astronomers announced the discovery of 60 new planets in orbit around the stars close to the Earth, the solar system, including a rocky “super-Earth”.
In the same month, NASA revealed the discovery of seven Earth-like planets in orbit around the star TRAPPIST-1 40 light-years from Earth. Three of the planets in the “habitable zone” where liquid water can exist, according to the scientists.
Two months later, in a separate research project, scientists reported that an exoplanet 40 light-years from Earth, the best place to search for signs of life outside our solar system.
ASTRONOMERS DISCOVER 60 NEW WORLDS, FIND ‘SUPER-EARTH’
Earlier this year, for the first time, scientists announced the discovery of planets outside the Milky way.
Using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray observatory, a team of astrophysicists from the University of Oklahoma identified the extragalactic planets about 3.8 billion light-years away. The space observatory have helped scientists to find over 2,000 objects with similar mass to Jupiter and the Moon.
Fox News’ James Rogers contributed to this story. Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia