Thursday, September 6, 2012
New super-earth discovered around the red dwarf star Gliese 163
Astronomers found it using the European Southern Observatory HARPS telescope (or High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher).
It has been billed as Gliese 163c, and has a mass of 6.9 times that of Earth and an orbital period of 26 days.
It orbits a red dwarf star 49 light years away in the Dorado constellation.
On their research announcement the team said that 'Gliese 163c could have a size between 1.8 to 2.4 Earth radii, depending if it is composed mostly of rock or water, respectively.'
It receives on average 40 percent more light from its parent star than Earth from the Sun, making it hotter.
In comparison, Venus receives 90 percent more light from the Sun than Earth.
Most complex life on Earth - such as plants, animals, and even humans - are not able to survive at temperatures above 50°C.
But those temperatures or higher can be endured by plenty of extreme organisms.
Along with their latest discovery the team has also found a a larger planet, Gliese 163b, orbiting the star much closer with 9 day period.
They also announced that an additional third, but unconfirmed planet, might be orbiting the star much farther away.
The new exoplanets were discovered by the European HARPS team led by Xavier Bonfils from the UJF-Grenoble/CNRS-INSU, Institut de Plane ́tologie et d’Astrophysique of Grenoble, France.
Scientists from France, Germany, Portugal, Switzerland, and Belgium also took part.