Astronomers discover two super-Earth exoplanets, orbiting a star, 11 light-years away

A group of astronomers working on the Red Dots project observed the star using the European Southern Observatory in Chile for three months.


Astronomers have discovered two super-Earth exoplanets that are orbiting a star 11 light-years away from Earth. The results of the study were published in the journal Science.

According to a report in CNN, the star, Gliese 887 is a small, dim red dwarf star with about half the mass of our sun, But due to its proximity, it is the brightest red dwarf in the sky and is one of the closest stars to our sun.

The report added that a group of astronomers working on the Red Dots project observed the star using the European Southern Observatory in Chile for three months. The High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher, known as the HARPS spectrograph, detected two planets around Gliese 887.

 Astronomers discover two super-Earth exoplanets, orbiting a star, 11 light-years away

An artist's impression of the star Gliese 887 and its planetary system. Image credit: University of Göttingen

As per a report in SciTech Daily, researchers made use of the 'Doppler wobble' effect.

The method enabled researchers to measure the tiny back and forth wobbles of the star caused by the gravitational pull of the planets.

Study authors said that the regular signals correspond to orbits of 9.3 and 21.8 days indicating two super-Earths, Gliese 887b and Gliese 887c.

Both planets are larger than Earth and move faster even than Mercury. Scientists estimate the temperature of Gliese 887c to be around 70-degree centigrade, the report said.

According to researchers, since Gliese 887 is not as active as our Sun, the newly discovered planets may retain their atmospheres, or have thicker atmospheres than the Earth, and potentially host life, even though the star receives more light than the Earth.

"The host star Gliese 887 is the best star in close proximity to the sun to understand whether its exoplanets have atmospheres and whether they have life, because it is such a bright and quiet star," lead author Sandra Jeffers, an astrophysicist at the University of Göttingen in Germany, told Space.com.


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