Spanish scientists discovered an exoplanet of the so-called super-Earth type. It is by 2.1 times larger than the Earth and orbits its host star, a red dwarf, within the habitability zone, also known as the Goldilocks zone. According to the researchers, this exoplanet could have liquid water on its surface, an indispensable condition for alien life to develop.
The finding, made by researchers from the University of Oviedo and the “Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias,” was made with data from the Kepler Space Telescope, designed to discover exoplanets by using the so-called transit method. In addition to that, the OSIRIS and HARPS-N instruments installed in the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) and the Telescopio Nazionale Galileo (TNG), respectively, located in the “Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory in Las Palma, in the Canary Islands.
Potentially Habitable Super-Earth Exoplanet, Found By Spanish Scientists
The finding will soon be published in the specialized journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, said Javier de Cos, a professor at the University of Oviedo and co-author of the paper. This super-Earth exoplanet, named K2-286b, orbits around a red dwarf star, the most abundant type in the galaxy. The star, located in the constellation Libra at 244 light years away from us, has a radius of 0.62 solar radii and a temperature of 3,650 degrees Celsius, as the study details.
The super-Earth exoplanet has a radius of 2.1 times larger than the Earth and orbits its star in 27.36 days. The exoplanet might also boast a temperature of about 60 degrees Celsius.
“We have verified that the activity of the star is moderate compared with other stars of similar characteristics which would increase the possibilities of the planet being habitable”, says Javier de Cos.
As the planet is within the Goldilocks zone, it could have the right conditions for alien life as it might possess liquid water, also a prerequisite for the development of life as we know it.