'Super-Earth' Five Times The Size Of The Earth Discovered (Video)

First Posted: Nov 19, 2016 04:00 AM EST

The scientists discovered a "super-Earth" known as GJ536 b, orbiting around a nearby red dwarf star. It has a mass of around 5.4 Earth masses, which means it is five times the size of planet Earth.

The findings of the discovery were published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. It was led by Alejandro Suarez Mascareño, a Ph.D. student from the Instituto Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC) and the University of La Laguna (ULL); Rafael Rebolo, Mascareño's thesis director; and Jonay Isai Gonzalez Hernandez, according to Phys.Org.

The super-Earth is about 32.7 lightyears away from the Earth. It is not  located within the star's habitable zone. Mascareño explained that the only planet they have found is GJ536b.

On the other hand, they are continuing to monitor the star to see if they can find other planets. He further explained that rocky planets are usually found in groups, and around this type of stars they can find other low-mass planets in orbits further from the star, with periods from 100 days up to a few years. They are now preparing for a program of monitoring for transits of this new exoplanet to know its radius and mean density.

According to Inverse, the researchers use the HARPS or the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Seeker spectrograph on the 3.6M Telescope at ESO's Las Silla Observatory in Chile, and HARPS-North, on the Telescopio Nacional Galileo (TNG) at the Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory, Garafia (La Palma) to detect the planet. They had spectroscopic observations for more than the eight-year period.

Rebolo said that to identify the planet, they had to gauge the velocity of the star with an accuracy of the order of a meter per second. He further said that with the building of the new instrument called ESPRESSO, co-directed by the IAC, they will enhance this accuracy by a factor of 10 and will be able to extend their search to planets with conditions like the planet Earth, around this and many other nearby stars.

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