With help from a state-of-the-art ground telescope located in the Canary Islands, researchers at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory detected a planetary system made up of three super-Earths and a gas giant closely orbiting a dwarf star located in the constellation Cassiopeia.
The newly found system has at its center a dwarf star scientifically dubbed HR 8832 which is bright enough to be observed with the naked eye but dimmer and smaller than our sun. Scientists noted that the dwarf star is located nearly 21 light years away.
The extrasolar system which now has a name – HD 219134b – comprises three inner super-Earths, or exoplanets that are considerably larger than our planet but smaller than our solar system’s ice giants, and one outer gas giant.
Astronomers also found that one of the three super-Earths periodically transits its host star. That planet which was called HD 219134b is nearly 5 times heavier than the Earth and more than 1.5 times larger. Additionally, its orbit is very tight since the planet manages to revolve around HR 8832 every three days.
Its founders stated that the fast transiting super-Earth is the closest planet to its host star they saw until today. And staying so close to your host star has some consequences. Astronomers speculate that the planet is a molten world with many active volcanoes and scorching temperatures.
Researchers believe that its surface may be doted with volcanoes because it looks like a rocky planet and its mass and size point into that direction.
Researchers also reported that another super-Earth is nearly 3 times as heavy as the Earth is and orbits its host star in nearly seven days, while the third super-Earth which is 8.7 times the mass of our planet orbits HR 8832 in about 50 terrestrial days.
“If, by chance, these two planets would be in a coplanar configuration with their third inner sister, HD 219134b, as often observed for compact systems, the whole family might be transiting,”
the team wrote in a paper on the findings.
Dr. Stéphane Udry, lead author of the discovery and astrophysics professor at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, believes that European Space Agency’s CHEOPS space satellite may help the team further in studying the planets. The group hopes to capture other transits in the near future.
Dr. Udry explained that if they are able to catch the transits of all three super-Earths, researchers would be able to learn a lot more about the planet’s composition and formation.
Image Source: NASA.jpl
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