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Scientists discover 15 new planets, including ‘super-Earth’ that could harbor liquid water

Image photo (Credit: Tokyo Institute of Technology)

Scientists have discovered 15 new planets, including a “super-Earth” that could have liquid water on its surface.

The planets orbiting small, cool stars in the neighborhood of our solar system, which is known as “Red Dwarfs.”

One of the brightest Red Dwarfs, K2-155, has three “super-Earths”, K2-155d, can be within the star’s habitable zone. K2-155d, which has a radius 1.6 times that of the Earth, may harbor liquid water, according to the three-dimensional global climate simulations.

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K2-155, which is about 200 light-years from Earth. A light-year measures distance in space is equal to 6 trillion miles.

The research also indicates that the planets in orbit around red dwarfs are remarkably similar to the planets in orbit around stars similar to the Sun, known as solar-type stars.

“It is important to note that the number of planets around red dwarfs is much smaller than the number around sun-like stars,” said Teruyuki Hirano of the Tokyo Institute of Technology Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, who led the research, in a statement. “Red dwarf systems, in particular, coolest red dwarfs are just beginning to be investigated, so they are very exciting targets for future exoplanet research.”

However, Hirano expressed caution about the conditions on the K2-155d. “In our simulations, the atmosphere and the composition of the planet were assumed to be on the Earth, and there is no guarantee that this is the case,” he said.

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More research on K2-155d, the temperature and the radius is needed to confirm whether the planet is indeed habitable.

The scientists based their research on data from the K2, the second mission of NASA’s Kepler spacecraft. Later observations were made with the Subaru telescope on Hawaii and the Nordic Optical Telescope (NOT) in Spain.

The findings are published in two articles in The Astronomical Journal.

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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.

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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.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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