Astronomers are looking for the next planet that could be like the Earth. A number of star systems have been seen with planets, but few of them have ones that could be almost like Earth. A likely candidate might have been found as a new super Earth new our solar system has been discovered.
This new super Earth is quite large. It is said to have 5.4 mass compared to the Earth. The planet has been designated GJ 536 b and is orbiting a star near our solar system. However, the planet is not within the star's habitable zone, or also known as the Goldilocks zone.
The planet has a short orbit time around the star, orbiting it in just 8.7 days. This would mean the planet is very near the star, which is a red dwarf that is much cooler than the Sun. The planet might not be habitable, but astronomers led by doctoral student Alejandro Suarez Mascareno of the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias and the University La Laguna and thesis directors Rafael Rebolo and Jonay Isai Gonzalez Hernandez say that the planet could be studied for its atmospheric conditions.
"So far, the only planet we have found is GJ 536 b, but we are continuing to monitor the star to see if we can find other companions," remarked Mascareno. He said that it is likely there are other low mass planets around the star, as such rocky planets come in groups. Those planets will likely have orbits much farther from it, according to the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias' site.
Gonzalez commented that the planet could be observed from both the northern and southern hemispheres. This would make it a good candidate for observation by other astronomers. Rebolo said that they have measured the velocity of the star as accurately as possible in order to detect the planet, as Science Daily reports. He hopes that the new ESPRESSO instrument would give them an even better way of studying the star and planet.
The planet has been discovered as a joint effort by IAC along with the Geneva Observatory. It has been discovered as part of a thesis by Mascareno. With a new super Earth near our solar system discovered, there would be a better understanding of the relationship between planets and the stars. There is also much speculation if there is alien life on Mars, and if NASA is somehow hiding it from the public.