Bone-crushingly cold Super Earth discovered orbiting nearby star


"We found a lot of systematic errors from several of the instruments that were producing "ghost signals". So they obtained time on some telescopes to do an extensive monitoring campaign in 2016 and 2017, including simultaneous observations with more than one instrument. "The precision of new measurements continues to improve, opening the doors to new parameters of space, such as super-Earth planets in cool orbits like Barnard's Star b". "Though it is extremely close, Barnard's star is too faint to be seen with the naked eye". It moves so rapidly against the background stars that it would cross the diameter of the full Moon in a little over 100 years. Astronomer's call such movement "proper motion".

In a landmark discovery, an global team of astronomers led by Ignasi Ribas of the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC) and Institute of Space Sciences (IEEC- CSIC) has found a candidate planet orbiting Barnard's star.

The discovery of Barnard's Star b was through indirect observations.

This wealth of data provided the extraordinary accuracy needed to identify the influence of the planet with near certainty. It is worth noting, however, that the measurements place the planet at a similar period to van de Kamp's claims in the 1960s.

This video shows an artist's impression of the system viewed from space.

Part of the challenge of finding the planet comes from the method that astronomers used: radial velocity (RV). These changes caused the apparent position of the Barnard's Star to shift back and forth relative to the bluer background stars.

"The chances of finding new ones is quite high", he said. This implies these kinds of planets are very common.

Maunakea, Hawaii - At only six light-years away, Barnard's star has fascinated exoplanet hunters since the 1960's, largely due to its extreme proximity to us. That might suggest a warm, temperate world - but Barnard's Star is a dim object, far less luminous than the Sun. This means it must be a frigid world.

But the search for evidence of planets around this famous red dwarf star over the past 50 years has been unsuccessful, until now. The planet is named after the star it orbits. Grains of dust (and ice) collide slowly, growing ever larger worlds.

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This is very promising as current theories of planetary formation predict that the snow line is the ideal location for super-Earths to form.

For most of human history, people wondered if there were other planets out there in the unfathomable reaches of space.

Van de Kamp thought he saw at least two planets, one in a 12-year and one in a 25-year orbit, both around the mass of Jupiter.

Loacting Barnard's Star candidate planet. Barnard's star is the second-closest star system, and the nearest single star to us.

There are a few ways the planet's existence could be verified. The European Space Agency's Gaia mission could eventually shed light on this question, since the spacecraft is created to precisely track the movements of stars. This is because it's moving quickly in relation to the sun, and it's the nearest single star in the sky to us, Butler said.

Barnard's Star b is estimated to have a mass around three times that of Earth. This method takes advantage of that fact that not only does a star's gravity obviously influence the planet orbiting it, but the planet's gravity also affects the star in turn.

Because Barnard's star is so close, the separation between the planet and star in the sky will be relatively large. Since that time we've found thousands, and they exist around many different kinds of stars.

Beyond that? Who knows.