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Three Earth-Sized Planets Found 160 Light-Years Away

June 8, 2018
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Three Earth-Sized Planets Found 160 Light-Years Away

Astronomers collected data from the K2 mission of NASA’s Kepler satellite. Thus, finding three Earth-sized planets in a solar system 160 light-years away.

These mysterious worlds lie in the constellation of the Sextant at 50 parsecs from the Sun. They orbit too close to their parent star. Therefore, they may be too hot to support life as we know it. One of the planets has exactly the same radius as Earth, while the other two are just slightly larger.

Researchers from Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) and the University of Oviedo in Spain, used data gathered by the K2 mission of NASA’s Kepler satellite to find these worlds.

Study co-leader Dr. Javier de Cos, of the University of Oviedo, said all five planets will have temperatures ranging from 107 to 327 degrees Celsius.

They orbit a red dwarf type M3v known as K2-239 every 5.2, 7.8 and 10.1 days, respectively. Researchers made the observations with the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC), at the Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory (Garafía, La Palma).

The new work also reveals the existence of another star system with two super-Earths. They have about twice the size of our planet.

The planets kept blocking the light from their parent stars from time to time. Thus, creating transits which allowed the team to see the bodies for the first time.

They also orbit a red dwarf called K2-240.

The atmospheric temperature of red dwarf stars is 3,450 and 3,800 K respectively. That’s almost half the temperature of our Sun.

Because they orbit so close to their stars, strong radiation scorches them. That’s why researchers are convinced that they have temperatures superficial tens of degrees higher than those of the planet Earth.

However, astronomers expect that the new James Webb Space Telescope will characterize the composition of the atmospheres of the discovered planets.

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Thumbnail image: Artistic simulation of a planetary system composed of three rocky planets with the same size of the Earth. Credit: Gabriel Pérez Díaz, SMM (IAC).

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