Super-Earth discovered in the habitable zone of a red dwarf

(ORDO NEWS) — Just 37 light-years from Earth, near the habitable zone of a red dwarf star, a super-Earth has been discovered.

This is the first discovery made by a brand new instrument on the Subaru telescope, and it provides an opportunity to study the possibility of life on planets around nearby stars.

With such a promising first find, we can hope that the Subaru telescope will find more, perhaps even more, habitable red dwarf planet candidates in the future.

Three-quarters of the stars in the Milky Way Galaxy are red dwarfs, which are smaller than the Sun and are found in abundance in the vicinity of the Sun.

Therefore, they are critical targets in the search for nearby extrasolar planets and extraterrestrial life. Red dwarfs are colder than other types of stars and emit less visible light, making them difficult to study.

Red dwarfs are best seen in the infrared wavelengths. To search for evidence of the existence of planets around red dwarf stars, the Center for Astrobiology in Japan has created an infrared observation device mounted on the Subaru telescope. The instrument is called IRD, the Infra-Red Doppler Observation Method used in this search.

The first fruits of this search are signs of a super-Earth four times the mass of Earth orbiting the star Ross 508, located 37 light-years away in the constellation Serpens.

This planet, Ross 508 b, has a year of only 11 Earth days and lies on the inner edge of the habitable zone around its host star.

Interestingly, there are indications that the planet’s orbit is elliptical, which means that for part of the orbit the planet is in the habitable zone – a region where conditions are suitable for the existence of liquid water on the surface of the planet. Whether there is water or life there is a matter for further study.

In the illustration – The Green Region represents the habitable zone where liquid water can exist on the surface of the planet.

The planetary orbit is shown as a blue line. Ross 508 b passes along the inner edge of the habitable zone (solid line), possibly crossing it in part of its orbit (dashed line).

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