Astronomers spot a trio of Earth-sized planets orbiting a distant star


PRL, described as the cradle of space sciences in India, conducts fundamental research in a host of physical sciences including astronomy and space.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has made great strides in recent years, setting new records for satellite launches and putting a probe into orbit around Mars - all for incredibly efficient prices.

The found planet is reportedly a sub-Saturn or super-Neptune-sized planet which has a radius six times that of earth, ISRO stated in its announcement on Friday. "It's closer to Neptune", he said. It revolves around a Sun-like star in 19.5 days, 600 light yrs away. Significantly, the discovery was made using a PRL-designed spectrograph, PARAS, to measure and confirm the mass of the new planet. Now, India has joined the group of countries that have discovered planets around stars.

Another red dwarf - K2-240 - there are two super-earths, in each of which the diameter exceeds the Earth twice. The host star's name is EPIC 211945201 or K2-236. It is seven times closer to the star as compared to the distance between the Earth and the Sun.

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The PARAS is the first spectrograph of its kind in India. Additionally, Kepler has revealed the existence of another 2,245 planets. "Very few such spectrographs exist around the world (mostly in the U.S. and in Europe) that can do such precise measurements", the official statement said. And thus, the 1.2m telescope, PARAS, was put to use from the Gurushikhar Observatory in Mount Abu, Rajasthan.

Using that data, PRL scientists who've been observing the planet for over a year now, claim that ice, iron and other heavy elements account for 60-70% of the planet's mass.

The planet orbits a Sun-like star 600 light-years away. This discovery is the first of its type that occurred on the Indian territory, placing the Asian country on the very selective list of the countries that discovered far-distant worlds.

The quest to find life beyond Earth has led to the discovery of two new planetary systems. All these planets apparently do not reside in their stars' habitable zone as they are orbiting very close to their red dwarfs.