Meanwhile, astronomers have discovered many solar rocks – similar to the inner planets of our solar system – in distant stars. However, little is known about these strange worlds. The newly discovered Exoplanet may change this: Glyce 486b orbits a red dwarf star 26 light-years away and indirectly resembles Venus. Scientists in the journal “Science” say that its short distance to Earth, its surface temperature and the state of its orbit make it the best candidate for future observation with large telescopes.
Astronomers have two main methods of finding planets in other stars. By the slight oscillation of the central star on the one hand. This is because if it were orbited by a planet, the two celestial bodies would move around a common center of mass. This slight tremor leaves traces in the light spectrum of the star. On the other hand, when the planets are in our view, they are noticeable as they move in front of their star. During such transport they obscure the star very little, leading to occasional fluctuations in brightness. Glycis 486b is one of the few planets that can be detected in both modes.
For this reason, astronomers who worked with Tryphon Tryphono from the Max Planck Institute of Astronomy in Heidelberg were now able to determine not only its orbit, but also its size and mass. The planet orbits its central star every day for a day and a half in a very narrow orbit. It is about 2.8 times the mass of Earth and thirty percent larger than our home planet. From the size and mass of the planet, researchers conclude that the Earth must have a similar structure – that is, it has rocks and an iron core. Astronomers call such massive rocky planets “Super Earths,” but with a surface temperature of about 426 degrees Celsius, Glycyrrhiza 486b is a supervenus higher.
“The discovery of the Glyce 486b is a side of luck,” said Jose Caballero, a member of the team at the Center for Astrobiology in Madrid. “One hundred degrees hotter, the whole surface will be lava – its atmosphere will then contain evaporated rocks. If Glycy 486b is one hundred degrees colder, this will not apply to follow-up observations.” Although the Glyce 486b temperature is much higher than that of liquid water, they offer the possibility that the planet, like Venus, will have a denser and more easily visible atmosphere.
With future instruments such as NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and the European Southern Laboratory’s largest telescope, astronomers can, for example, measure the rate at which the atmosphere absorbs and shines at what wavelengths. Such data can be used to find out something about their structure and nature. “We can’t wait until new telescopes are available,” Tryphonov says. “These results will help us understand how well rocky planets can retain their atmospheres, what gas envelopes are made of and how they affect the planet’s energy supply.” Researchers have developed theoretical models for the atmospheres of extraterrestrial worlds, but they have been able to verify, but not yet models. Glycy 486b may be the first step towards this.
In total, astronomers have now discovered 4600 exoplanets. These include rocky planets that move their orbits in the life-friendly zone around their central star – meaning temperatures are moderate and possible at liquid water surfaces. With the help of valid atmospheric models, it will be easier to estimate whether there will actually be life in the future.
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