India has discovered a new Exoplanet. A year there means 19.5 Earth days

India has discovered a new Exoplanet. A year there means 19.5 Earth days

Scientists of PRL have found EPIC, an Earth-like Exoplanet, at a distance of 600 light-years away from us.

Scientists are trying to explore each and every possibility in the quest for signs of life in any part of our universe. They have not managed to find life anywhere until now but the discovery of Exoplanets is a promising development. The term ‘Exoplanet’ refers to all those planets that are located outside our solar system. Astronomers have found thousands of them in the last 20 years and Kepler Space Telescope of NASA has completely dominated this process as most of them were found by this revolutionary invention. A huge diversity has been observed in the surface of these planets as some of them are icy while others have a rocky terrain. Researchers at NASA are striving extremely hard to find an Earth-like planet that is orbiting in the Goldilocks Zone of a star, which is similar to our sun.

In August 2016, scientists found ‘Proxima b’ revolving around the Proxima Centauri. This planet is nearly 1.3 times larger than the Earth and lies at a distance of 4.7 million kilometers. This means that it is well within the habitable zone of its host star and liquid water could be present on this exoplanet. Researchers predicted it to be tidally locked as it takes only 11.2 Earth days to orbit around its parent star. For those who don’t know, ‘Tidally Locked’ refers to a state where a heavenly body shows the same face to its host star all the time. A common example that can help you understand is the moon of Earth, which is a tidally locked body. Despite all the promise, nothing conclusive could be found about this exoplanet.

A recent finding has boosted the morale of the researchers once again as Indian scientists found a sub-Saturn exoplanet called EPIC 211945201b at a distance of 600 light years from us. It is also known as K2-236b and is orbiting a Sun-like star in the outer space. This exoplanet is 27 times more massive than Earth and its radius is 6 times more than our home planet. Its discovery has placed India in the elite group of countries that have identified a planet outside our solar system. As it is 7 times closer to its star than Earth is to the Sun, a year on that planet is about 19.5 days on Earth. This shortage of distance means that its temperature is too hostile to support life. According to an estimate of the researchers, the temperature on K2-236b is around 600o C.

The first sighting of this exoplanet was reported by Kepler which declared it as a potential candidate. However, a team of Indian scientists, led by Abhijit Chakraborty, at the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in Ahmedabad confirmed that it is actually a planet. It is easier said than done as a lot of hard work is needed to differentiate a planet from a comet or any other astronomical object. The researchers made use of the PRL Advance Radial-Velocity Abu-sky Search (PARAS) spectrograph at the Gurushikhar Observatory in Mount Abu. Not only did they calculate the mass of the planet but they also studied the light coming from its host star to assign it the status of an Exoplanet. The team said,

We report here strong evidence for a sub-Saturn around EPIC 211945201 and confirm its planetary nature.”

There are two massive positives associated with this discovery. Firstly, it is an amazing achievement which will unveil several secrets about exoplanets. As EPIC was found quite close to its parent star, scientists have a new mystery to solve because current knowledge of humans is insufficient to explain how and why it happened. Other than that, the fact that the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is improving quick and fast is quite beneficial for the overall well-being of our species as another entity will search future homes for humanity. When it comes to space exploration, a lot of boundaries of Earth are eradicated because more telescopes in our galaxy will increase our chances of succeeding. Considering the recent achievements of ISRO like launching a probe around Mars at extremely economical prices, we can assume that another country is ready to search the outer space.

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