Scientists have identified strong evidence for Earth orbiting the second star system closest to the Sun, according to a new study.
The evidence includes a slight change in the starlight of Bernard, a small star 5.9 light-years away. The data indicate the presence of a cold planet at least 3.2 times heavier than the Earth, orbiting much farther than expected. But its relative proximity to Earth makes it an important world, which scientists can soon photograph directly.
"The closest planetary discovery is of intrinsic interest, because these are the planets that we can expect to best characterize in a few decades," said James Engelda-Escuda, senior author of the study, from Queen Mary University, London University, to Gizmodo. "In this case, the moderate angular separation is supposed to enable direct imaging soon."
Bernard's star is the planet closest to a planet, and like many stars in the environment it is relatively dim and cool, with a temperature of about 3,000 degrees Celsius, and mass and radius are around the sixth of the sun. Its characteristics are similar to other potential exoplanet hosting stars that we've been excited about, such as Proxima Centauri and TRAPPIST-1.
Despite the history of promising but ultimately futile search for planets around the star, it appears that analysis of archival data from observations of star speed reveals an easy and repetitive signal. The scientists needed more before they reached the conclusion, so they took a lot of spectrometry data to measure the slight changes in the wavelengths of starlight caused by changes in velocity relative to Earth. They saw the star on "every possible night" using the CARMENES spectrometer on a telescope at Calar Alto Observatory in Spain, as well as using other telescopes, and published their results in nature.
The tracking data revealed the light signal that would fit the Earth surrounding the Bernadette every 233 days, about 40% of the distance between Earth and Sun. This is roughly the same as the average distance between Mercury and the Sun. This sounds close, but it is quite a lot compared to the dwarf-like systems that astronomers observed.
Although the planet is outside the planet's living area, which means it's really cold, it's an important potential target for planet studies, said Professor Paul Robertson, a professor of physics and professor of astronomy at the University of California at Irvine University who was not involved in the study, Gizmodo. His distance says there is a potential to imagine the star separate from the star, rather than hinting at the existence of a planet based on changes in starlight.
It is important to note that there is still some ambiguity in the data; There is a reason they call it candidate identification. And who knows, there may be closer planets that just have not been discovered yet.
"I'd like to see a deeper analysis of the rotation period," Robertson said. "Exoplanet Hunters take care of a lot about the cycle cycle period because if you have features like starpots spinning around the planet, they can generate false positive exoplanet signals.The authors of this study are going to great lengths to prove that this signal is not false positive astrophysical but still has some ambiguity About the rotation period of the star. "
Anglada-Escude wants to continue taking data on the planet, and we hope to discover the Earth using direct or indirect methods.
But it's definitely exciting, safe, and seductive. "This planet is a cold superball, perhaps a huge analog to Saturn's moon Titan, which is very rich in hydrocarbons," said Englada-Escuda. "Who knows if something can grow there …"[Nature]