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Astronomers have discovered a new planet the size of Mars and made of iron

Astronomers have discovered a new planet the size of Mars and made of iron

Illustration of exoplanet GJ 367b, located 31 light-years from Earth (Reuters)

The search for other worlds outside our solar system does not stopOn the contrary, it is adding new planets week by week.

new discovery It’s called “GJ 367 b,” and although it’s somewhat larger than Mars, this small, rocky, very dense, iron-rich exoplanet is one of the nearly 5,000 largest ever discovered.. Its origin is mysterious and its study will help to learn more about the evolution and formation of terrestrial planets.

The planet was discovered by an international group of 78 scientists led by the DLR Planetary Research Institute (German Aerospace Center) Discovery details they publish Today in the magazine Science. “GJ 367 b has a very large iron core and a small silicate fraction as Earth, The composition is similar to that of Mercury, which is the closest planet to the sun in our solar systemExplains Enrique Bali, a researcher at the Institute of Astrophysics in the Spanish Archipelago of the Canary Islands (IAC) and co-author of the study.

Astronomers have turned to instruments like HARPS, from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) telescope, to determine aspects such as a star's radial velocity (NASA)
Astronomers have turned to instruments like HARPS, from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) telescope, to determine aspects such as a star’s radial velocity (NASA)

What is more, This strange exoplanet, which is only 31 light-years from Earth, orbits a star in about 8 hours, which means that its “year lasts less than a day on Earth,” the researcher adds. Astronomers have not seen it directly, but they were able to estimate its size and mass by observing its effects on the star orbiting it.

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Like many exoplanets, GJ 367 b was discovered by NASA’s TESS satellite It searches for transiting planets, which occurs when a planet passes in front of its star and absorbs part of the star’s light, a phenomenon generally studied from space to prevent Earth’s atmosphere from distorting as a result of observation.

Once detected by TESS, Astronomers have turned to instruments like HARPS, from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) telescope, to determine aspects such as a star’s radial velocity or to calculate a planet’s mass and radius with great accuracy. The study concluded that because of its properties, GJ 367 b is a “very short period” (USP) exoplanet, orbiting its star in less than 24 hours, with a radius equal to 72% of the radius of the Earth, and a mass close to 55% of the mass of the Earth.

This data allowed the researchers They drew conclusions about the internal structure of an exoplanet and concluded that it is a rocky, low-mass planetBut with a density higher than that of the Earth.

“The higher density indicates that the planet is dominated by an iron core,” explains Szilárd Csizmadia, a researcher at the DLR Planetary Research Institute and first author of the study. The research also shows that an exoplanet orbits a red star called GJ 367 –half the size of the sun– but he does it so close to herIt receives 500 times more radiation than the Earth’s radiation from the Sun, which means that its surface temperature must exceed 1500 degrees Celsius”, explains Spaniard Pal. The study indicates that this temperature is sufficient to melt rocks and minerals at the surface, so GJ 367 b cannot be considered a “second Earth”.

The image shows a comparison of the outer planet system of the star L 98-59 (above) with a portion of the inner solar system (Mercury, Venus, and Earth), and highlights the similarities that exist between the two systems.  Image provided by the European Southern Observatory (ESO).  EFE.
The image shows a comparison of the outer planet system of the star L 98-59 (above) with a portion of the inner solar system (Mercury, Venus, and Earth), and highlights the similarities that exist between the two systems. Image provided by the European Southern Observatory (ESO). EFE.

“Through our measurements, we have found that this exoplanet is smaller and less massive than Earth,” he says. Kristen LammResearcher at the Planetary Research Institute of the German Aerospace Center in Berlin. “We can imagine that this planet probably looks like a molten planet, at a temperature where many metals can begin to melt.. It may contain lava, it may not have an atmosphere, but at the moment we don’t know yet. What we do know is that this planet is very dense and has an interior that resembles Mercury,” Lamm added.

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because This planet orbits a nearby bright star, scholars should be able to get more information on this topic using James Webb Space Telescope, Which will launch soon, which is scheduled to take off December 22. If an ocean of magma covered this planet, and if it could float on its surface and look up into the sky, the swirling red star would appear thirty times larger in the sky than the sun in Earth’s sky, he says. Joshua Wayne, an astronomer at Princeton University.

For Ballé, This planet is “very interesting” because it is “one of the smallest ever discovered, But also because it’s so dense, and that forces us to think about how it got there, because it almost certainly didn’t form there.”

One possibility is that “this solar system has hosted other planets — still out there and we haven’t discovered them yet — and that they interact with them or push them into this orbit near their star,” says Ball. He concludes, “GJ 367 b is not only one of the smallest planets we know and one that orbits as fast as possible around its star, but it also has a very interesting history that we now have to unravel.”

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