15 New Planets Found Orbiting Dwarf Stars

Posted: Mar 14 2018, 3:52am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
15 New Planets Found Orbiting Dwarf Stars
Credit: Tokyo Institute of Technology

One of the red dwarfs named K2-155 has three transiting super-Earths

Astronomers have detected 15 new exoplanets orbiting cool red dwarf stars. The discovery is made possible by NASA Kepler spacecraft's K2 mission and the follow-up observations from ground-based telescopes like Subaru Telescope and the Nordic Optical Telescope.

In the newly validated batch of planets, three exoplanets are super-Earths and orbit a bright red dwarf called K2-155 that lies around 200 light years away from Earth. Of those three, the outermost planet, could be located in its star’s habitable zone, which is the distance from the host star where an exoplanet can maintain liquid water on its surface. Liquid water is a key ingredient of life on Earth.

"In our simulations, the atmosphere and the composition of the planet were assumed to be Earth-like, and there's no guarantee that this is the case." Lead researcher Teruyuki Hirano of Tokyo Institute said in a statement.

The outermost planet, K2-155d, has a radius 1.6 times that of Earth but it is more massive than our planet. A more precise estimate of the radius and temperature of the K2-155 star would be needed to determine whether K2-155d is habitable. For example, interferometric techniques that use interference of waves can lead to more refined measurements.

Although the newly discovered star system is remarkably similar to other solar-type stars, it has less number of planets around it. This is also the first time that a similar gap has been observed in planets around red dwarfs.

"It's important to note that the number of planets around red dwarfs is much smaller than the number around solar-type stars," said Hirano. "Red dwarf systems, especially coolest red dwarfs, are just beginning to be investigated, so they are very exciting targets for future exoplanet research."

The discovery of planetary system with the potential for water on its surface is exciting in search for life beyond Earth and there is a possibility that future studies of this sytem could reveal more promising results.

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