Researchers have found an incredibly rare new Super-Earth planet towards the centre of the galaxy and that it is one of only a handful that has been discovered with both size and orbit comparable to that of planet Earth.
The new and rare planet is among only a handful of extra-solar planets that have been detected with both sizes and orbits close to that of Earth.
Using the solar system as a point of reference, the host star is about 10 per cent the mass of our Sun, and the planet would have a mass somewhere between that of Earth and Neptune, and would orbit at a location between Venus and Earth from the parent star.
Due to the host star having a smaller mass than our Sun, the planet would have a ‘year’ of approximately 617 days, the researchers noted.
The planet was discovered using a technique called gravitational microlensing. The microlensing effect is rare, with only about one in a million stars in the galaxy being affected at any given time.
Furthermore, this type of observation does not repeat, and the probabilities of catching a planet at the same time are extremely low.
These experiments detect around 3000 microlensing events each year, the majority of which are due to lensing by single stars.
All of the planets in our solar system orbit around the Sun. Those planets that orbit around other stars are called extra solar planets or exoplanets.
They are very hard to see directly with telescopes as they are hidden by the bright glare of the stars they orbit.