Using data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope, two NASA interns and a team of amateur astronomers have found a new ‘super Earth’.
Roughly twice the size of Earth, and known as K2-288Bb, the new world is located within its star’s habitable zone, raising hopes it could contain life.
It is 226 light-years away in the constellation Taurus, and could be rocky or could be a gas-rich planet similar to Neptune, NASA says.
THE NEWEST EXOPLANET: WHAT WE KNOW
Located 226 light-years away in the constellation Taurus, the planet lies in a stellar system known as K2-288, which contains a pair of dim, cool M-type stars separated by about 5.1 billion miles (8.2 billion kilometers) – roughly six times the distance between Saturn and the Sun.
The brighter star is about half as massive and large as the Sun, while its companion is about one-third the Sun’s mass and size, NASA says.
The new planet, K2-288Bb, orbits the smaller, dimmer star every 31.3 days.
Estimated to be about 1.9 times Earth’s size, K2-288Bb is half the size of Neptune.
Its size is rare among exoplanets – planets beyond our solar system.
‘It’s a very exciting discovery due to how it was found, its temperate orbit and because planets of this size seem to be relatively uncommon,’ said Adina Feinstein, a University of Chicago graduate student, who is also the lead author of a paper describing the new planet accepted for publication by The Astronomical Journal.
The planet lies in a stellar system known as K2-288, which contains a pair of dim, cool stars separated by about 5.1 billion miles (8.2 billion kilometers) – roughly six times the distance between Saturn and the Sun.
The discovery was made made when, in 2017, Feinstein and Makennah Bristow, an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina Asheville, worked as interns with Joshua Schlieder, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
They searched Kepler data for evidence of transits, the regular dimming of a star when an orbiting planet moves across the star’s face.
Examining data from the fourth observing campaign of Kepler’s K2 mission, the team noticed two likely planetary transits in the system.
By:Mark Prigg/Daily Mail