Published: Sun, November 18, 2018
Science | By Michele Flores

Scientists have discovered a cold planet near the Sun

Scientists have discovered a cold planet near the Sun

It is only about six light-years away from Earth. An global team has announced that it has found good evidence of the existence of a frozen exoplanet that is at least three times larger than the Earth and which moves around nearby Barnard's star, about six light years away from our own planet. Astronomers found the so-called super Earth orbiting Barnard's star, the fourth closest star to the sun.

"After a very careful analysis, we are 99 percent confident that the planet is there", Ignasi Ribas, of the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia and the Institute of Space Sciences in Spain, said in a statement.

Barnard's Star b is the second nearest to the Sun exoplanet.

Exoplanets so small and so far away from their parent star have not been discovered before using the radial velocity technique.

Barnard's Star is about twice as old as Earth's sun, one-sixth as massive and just 3 percent as luminous.

However, it took more than two decades of observation before someone found definitive evidence that an exoplanet is in orbit around Barnard's star. The planet, loaded with ice, is located approximately six light-years away from our sun and contains a temperature of 150 degrees Celsius below zero.

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Earlier in the framework of the project Red Dots managed to find the planet in the nearest star to the Sun is Proxima Centauri.

That nearby star - called Barnard's Star - is actually 30 trillion miles from Earth. "Follow-up observations are already underway at different observatories worldwide".

This time, scientists exploited seven high-precision instruments spanning 20 years of measurements, making this "one of the largest and most extensive datasets ever used for precise radial velocity studies", Ribas boasted.

"Even more excitingly, the next generation of ground-based instrumentation, also coming into operation in the 2020s, should be able to directly image the reported planet, and measure its light spectrum", Diaz wrote.

By combining archival data from other teams with new, overlapping calculations, the team collected a "huge amount of information": a total of 771 measurements.

"The additional data from CARMENES strongly confirmed the signal, and removed any lingering doubt as to the reality of this planet", Vogt said. "However, we must remain cautious and collect more data to nail the case in the future, because natural variations of the stellar brightness resulting from star spots can produce similar effects to the ones detected".

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