An international team of astronomers led by the University of Göttingen (Germany), has discovered two Earth-like planets around Teegarden star.
Astronomers used the CARMENES high-resolution spectrograph at the Calar Alto Observatory (Almería), to detect the planets. They are orbiting one of the nearest stars within our galactic neighborhood, the Teegarden star.
The tiny old red dwarf star lies just 12 light-years away from us in the constellation of Aries. It is only about 2,700 °C warm and roughly ten times lighter than the Sun.
Researchers estimate the Teegarden’s star is eight billion years old, or nearly twice the sun’s age. Considering the star’s age, the new-found planets might be as ancient. So there was enough time for life as we know it to evolve.
Both of the worlds orbiting the red dwarf are nearly identical to Earth in mass. Also, they are both orbiting in the habitable region where temperatures are just right for liquid water to exist.
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“Both Teegarden’s planets are potentially habitable,” says Ignasi Ribas of the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia, a member of the team. “We will eventually see if they are actually habitable and, perhaps, even inhabited.”
“We have been observing this star for three years to look for periodic variations in its velocity, explains Mathias Zechmeister, a researcher at the University of Göttingen, the first author of the paper. The observations showed that two planets are orbiting it, both of them similar to the planets in the inner part of the Solar System. They are just a little bigger than the Earth and are situated in the “inhabitable zone” where water can exist as a liquid. It is possible that the two planets are part of a larger system,” says Stefan Dreizler, a University of Göttingen researcher and a co-author of the paper.
Researchers have published their work in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.
Astronomers have used instruments such as Muscat2 on the Carlos Sánchez Telescope at the Teide Observatory (Tenerife) and with the network of telescopes of the Las Cumbres Observatory, among others, to carry out photometric campaigns. “These studies demonstrate that the signals of the two planets cannot be due to the activity of the star, even though we could not detect the transits of the two new planets,” says Victor Sánchez Béjar, an IAC researcher and another author of the article.