Cold Super-Earth found orbiting closest single star to Sun

ScienceDaily | 11/14/2018 | Staff
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The planet, designated Barnard's Star b, now steps in as the second-closest known exoplanet to Earth [1]. The gathered data indicate that the planet could be a super-Earth, having a mass at least 3.2 times that of the Earth, which orbits its host star in roughly 233 days. Barnard's Star, the planet's host star, is a red dwarf, a cool, low-mass star, which only dimly illuminates this newly-discovered world. Light from Barnard's Star provides its planet with only 2% of the energy the Earth receives from the Sun.

Despite being relatively close to its parent star -- at a distance only 0.4 times that between Earth and the Sun -- the exoplanet lies close to the snow line, the region where volatile compounds such as water can condense into solid ice. This freezing, shadowy world could have a temperature of -170℃, making it inhospitable for life as we know it.

Astronomer - E - E - Barnard - Barnard

Named for astronomer E. E. Barnard, Barnard's Star is the closest single star to the Sun. While the star itself is ancient -- probably twice the age of our Sun -- and relatively inactive, it also has the fastest apparent motion of any star in the night sky [2]. Super-Earths are the most common type of planet to form around low-mass stars such as Barnard's Star, lending credibility to this newly discovered planetary candidate. Furthermore, current theories of planetary formation predict that the snow line is the ideal location for such planets to form.

Previous searches for a planet around Barnard's Star have had disappointing results -- this recent breakthrough was possible only by combining measurements from several high-precision instruments mounted on telescopes all over the world [3].

Analysis - % - Planet - Team - Scientist

"After a very careful analysis, we are 99% confident that the planet is there," stated the team's lead scientist, Ignasi Ribas (Institute of Space Studies of...
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