ISRO’s PRL scientists discover an ‘EPIC’ planet

Exoplanet discovered by Indian scientists 600 light years away

Orbited by two super-earths that are larger than the size of our planet two times, and mass - five. India has joined the elite club of a handful of countries with this discovery of new planets around stars. The team found the planet to be smaller in size than Saturn and bigger than Neptune. These planets are orbiting around the star every 5.2, 7.8 and 10.1 days.

The discovery was made by measuring the mass of the planet using the indigenously designed "PRL Advance Radial-velocity Abu-Sky Search" spectrograph integrated with a 1.2m telescope at PRL's Gurushikar Observatory in Rajasthan's Mount Abu. Hence, the exoplanet has been named after its the host star as EPIC 211945201b or K2-236b.

Ahmedabad, India, have identified a new exoplanet, a super-Neptune planet, situated at 600 million light-years far from the Earth.

On the other hand, only a few such accurate and powerful spectrographs exist around the world, the majority of which being in the United States and Europe.

Dr. Murthy said, "The work done by Dr. Chakraborty and his collaborators is important in characterising the nature of the exoplanet and they were able to show that the candidate is a close to Saturn-size planet orbiting near its star". Its surface is around 600 degree Celsius and is very close to the host star.

While we're not expecting to travel to Earth-like planets anytime soon, scientists are still preoccupied with finding them, if only to see that we're potentially not alone in the universe. Such a high temperature might make it uninhabitable for living creatures.

According to SciTech Daily, John Grunsfeld, from NASA's Science Mission Directorate, explained that the Kepler spacecraft has yielded many surprises, and with the discovery of three new rocky planet, s we may be closer now to learning whether these other planetary systems may harbor life of some kind. PRL scientists, who observed the target for about 1.5 years with the spectrograph, made calculations which suggested that heavy elements like ice, silicates and iron content make 60%-70% of the total mass.

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