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Current Affairs

Astronomers discover Super-Earth

Date: 13 May 2020 Tags: Space

Issue

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. 

 

Background

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.

 

Details

  • 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.