Cosmic sensation: Potentially habitable super-Earth discovered
An international team of astronomers has found and observed a celestial body that might have favorable conditions for life.
A super-Earth is an extrasolar planet with a mass two to 10 times greater than that of Earth's, Sputnik reports. The term super-Earth refers only to the mass of the planet and doesn't imply anything about the surface conditions or habitability. However, the latest super-Earth discovered by astronomers from Italy, Spain and Switzerland is located in the habitable zone of its parent star.
The exoplanet, GJ 625b, is located in the Draco constellation at a distance of 21.3 light-years from Earth and is only 2.8 times heavier than our planet. It orbits a star called Gliese 625 (also known among scientists as GJ 625 or AC 54 1646-56), which is about three times smaller and lighter than the sun. Experts note that the exoplanet studied by them is the smallest of super-Earths closest to the sun.
The group of astronomers observed GJ 625b for over 3.5 years using the HARPS-N spectrograph (High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher for the Northern hemisphere), a high-precision instrument of the Galileo National Telescope located at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the Canary Islands, Spain.
The newly found planet completes its circle around the parent star in 14.6 days. Scientists say it is located on the inner edge of the circumstellar habitable zone and may have liquid water on its surface. The average surface temperature of the celestial body is estimated at 350 degrees Kelvin (76.9 degrees Celsius or 170.3 degrees Fahrenheit). In the following study, scientists plan to get some information about the atmosphere of the celestial body.
The habitable zone is also called the Goldilocks Zone, a metaphor from the children's fairytale "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," in which a little girl chooses from sets of three items, ignoring the ones that are too extreme (large or small, hot or cold, etc.), and settling on the one in the middle, which is "just right." The first potentially habitable planet, Kepler 22b, was discovered by NASA's Kepler Space Telescope in December 2011. Since February 22, 2017, there have already been eight confirmed exoplanets discovered in the habitable zones of their stars.