Discovery of a super-Earth near the habitable zone of its star

A superLand, four times the size of our planet, was discovered near the limit of the habitable zone of its star, called Ross 508: its presence was revealed by the almost imperceptible movements that the star makes due to the gravitational attraction exerted by the planet that orbits around it. This is the first exoplanet discovered as part of the new investigation started in 2019 using the Subaru telescope in Hawaii, of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (Naoj). Research is online on the arXiv platform, which welcomes articles awaiting review by the scientific community, and is being published in the journal of the Astronomical Society of Japan.

Ross 508, located just 36.5 light years away, is a red dwarf, much smaller and fainter than our Sun. The newly discovered planet, Ross 508 b (which given its size is highly likely to be of a terrestrial or rocky type ), orbits it every 10.75 days: it may therefore seem that the planet is too close to its star, but at that distance the radiation that hits it is only 1.4 times that that hits the Land, a feature that places it very close to the internal limit of the habitable zone. In any case, the superLand host forms of life, at least as we know it.

Ross 508 is one of the smallest and faintest stars with an orbiting planet identified thanks to the radial velocity method, also known as the Doppler method: when the star moves slightly towards us, the starlight reaching the Land it is more on the blue, while when it moves away, the light shifts towards the red. This suggests that future investigations using this observation technique have the potential to uncover a vast treasure trove of exoplanets orbiting faint stars.


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