Astronomers from Carmen (Calar Alto’s high-resolution search for M dwarves with Exoearths with near infrared and Echelle Spectrographs) A consortium discovered a short-range rocky planet orbiting the red dwarf Gliese 486.
Also known as GJ 486, Wolf 437, LHS 341, and HIC 62452, the star is lighter and colder than the Sun.
The newly discovered planet orbits the star once every 1.5 days at a distance of 2.5 million km.
Rhombus Gliese 486b belongs to a class of exoplanets called the super-Earth.
It has a radius of 1.31 times the radius of the Earth, and its mass is 2.8 times the mass of our original planet, but it has a similar density.
Its composition is not its only distinguishing feature – its relative proximity to the Earth makes it an ideal candidate for observations with next-generation astronomical technology.
“The proximity of this exoplanet is exciting because it will be possible to study it in more detail using powerful telescopes like the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope and various very large telescopes like GMT and TMT,” said Dr. Trifon Trifonov. An astronomer at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy.
“Within the next few years, we hope to use transient spectroscopy to look for signs of the atmosphere and possibly determine the composition of this planet’s surface.”
With a balanced surface temperature of 700 K (427 ° C, 801 ° F), Gliese 486b is way too hot to support life as we know it.
“You wouldn’t be able to get out without some kind of space suit,” said Dr. Ben Monte, an astronomer at the School of Physics at the University of New South Wales.
“Gravity is also 70% stronger than that on Earth, which makes walking and jumping even more difficult. A person who weighs 50 kg on land will feel like they weigh 85 kg on a Gliese 486b.”
“If the temperature was about a hundred degrees higher, its surface would be lava, and its atmosphere would be vaporized rocks,” said Dr. Jose Antonio Caballero, astronomer at the Center for Astrobiology (CAB, CSIC-INTA).
“On the other hand, if the Gliese 486b were about a hundred degrees cooler, it wouldn’t be suitable for follow-up observations.”
Astronomers discovered Gliese 486b using data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey (TESS) satellite and ground-based telescopes in Spain, the United States, Chile and Hawaii.
“This is the kind of planet that we have been dreaming about for decades,” said Dr. Montet.
“We knew for a long time that the rocky super-Earth should exist around nearby stars, but we didn’t have the technology to search for them until recently.”
The discovery was reported in A. paper Published this week in the magazine Science.
Trivonov Et al. 2021. A nearby transient rocky exoplanet suitable for atmospheric probe. Science 371 (6533): 1038-1041; Doi: 10.1126 / science.abd7645