Indian lab discovers large exoplanet around a Sun-like star

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A team of Indian scientists, under the guidance of Prof Abhijit Chakraborty of Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad, has found an exoplanet. The exoplanet is around 27 times the mass of Earth and has six times the radius of our planet.

Being that close, you might think that the planets would be unbearably hot but the scientists say that might not be the case.

The star the planets orbit is located in the constellation of the Sextant at 50 parsecs from the Sun - that means it's about 160 light years away. Significantly, the discovery was made using a PRL-designed spectrograph, PARAS, to measure and confirm the mass of the new planet.

The planet has been named EPIC 211945201b or K2-236b and it's big - around 27 times more massive than Earth.

The name of the host star is EPIC 211945201 or K2-236. Researchers estimate that all newly discovered planets will have temperature tens of degrees higher than that of Earth due to the strong radiation they receive in close orbits to their stars. Now, a trio of new rocky worlds has been discovered orbiting a distant star, and while they're a lot like Earth in terms of size, they're a bit steamier.

Researchers have determined that the atmospheric temperature of these two red dwarf stars approaches between 3,450 and 3,800 K which is much less than our own sun, with only half of its intensity.

Based on the planet's physical properties, calculations suggested that heavy elements like ice, silicates and iron comprise 60 to 70 percent of its total mass. "Very few such spectrographs exist around the world (mostly in the United States of America and in Europe) that can do such precise measurements", the official statement said. Therefore, an independent measurement of the mass of the body was necessary for the discovery, which was made by the PARAS spectrograph. The scientists have used a PARAS spectrograph for calculating the mass of the planet.

Dr. Murthy said, "The work done by Dr. Chakraborty and his collaborators is important in characterising the nature of the exoplanet and they were able to show that the candidate is a close to Saturn-size planet orbiting near its star".

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