From the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) of Ahmedabad, a team of Indian scientists discovered sub-Saturn or super-Neptune-shaped size exoplanet(a planet which exists outside Earth’s solar system), which is approximately 27 times the mass of Earth and six times the radius of the planet. About 600 light years away from the Earth, the planet revolves around a Sun-like star.
The discovery was made by calculating the mass of the planet using the aboriginal designed ‘PRL Advance Radial-velocity Abu-Sky Search’ (PARAS) spectrograph which is combined with 1.2m telescope at PRL’s Gurushikar Observatory in Mount Abu.
“With the discovery being made, India has entered in the list of the select league of countries which has discovered that there are planets around the stars”.
On the website of ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation), there was a mention in the post, where scientists said that the host star (star around which planets were observed) is EPIC 211945201 or K2-236 and the planet will be known as “EPIC 211945201b or K2-236b”. When the mission was started, the planet was found to revolve around the star in about 19.5 days.
The surface temperature around the planet was measured about 600 degrees Celsius; the temperature which is very close to the host star, which is exactly seven times nearer to its star when compared with the distance between Sun and Earth. This may probably make it unfit to live in.
According to the scientists, it is important to understand the formation mechanism of such sub-Saturn or super-Neptune like planets, which are very close to the host star.
PARAS Spectrograph made an independent measure of the planet body mass, after the data of NASA’s K2 (Kepler2) photometry, it was necessary for the search because planet’s nature of the system could not be confirmed.
In the beginning, NASA’s K2 (Kepler2) photometry (the measurement of various aspects of light; like intensity, spectrum and especially its intensity) found that the source was a universal candidate as it was transiting (at least one celestial body appears to move across the face of another celestial body, hiding a small part of it), where the planet body comes between the star and the observer on Earth.
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It goes around the star and therefore blocks a tiny amount of star-light. By measuring the amount of light blocked by the planet body, the diameter or size of the planet can be measured. It was found to be 6 Earth radii. However, that data was not sufficient to confirm the planetary nature of the system.
Scientist of PRL, who observed the mission to succeed for about 1.5 years with the PARAS spectrograph to examine the nature of the system; they calculated and suggested that the heavy elements such as ice, silicates and iron content contributes to 60%-70% of the total mass.
It was important to do this detection process as it adds to not so dense systematic list of confirmed exoplanets with their mass between 10 and 70 M and radii in between 4-8 R of Earth, whose masses and radii are measured to a precise percent of 50 or more.
Only 23 of such systems (including current) are known to this date with this precise measurement of mass and radius.