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Researchers Find Exciting Potential for Little-Known Exoplanet – and Discover Another Planet in the Process

6 Dec 2017, 20:40 UTC
Researchers Find Exciting Potential for Little-Known Exoplanet – and Discover Another Planet in the Process
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New research using data collected by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) has revealed that a little-known exoplanet called K2-18b could well be a scaled-up version of Earth. Just as exciting, the same researchers also discovered for the first time that the planet has a neighbor.“Being able to measure the mass and density of K2-18b was tremendous, but to discover a new exoplanet was lucky and equally exciting,” says lead author Ryan Cloutier, a PhD student in U of T Scarborough’s Centre for Planet Science, U of T’s Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, and Université de Montréal Institute for research on exoplanets (iREx).Both planets orbit K2-18, a red-dwarf star located about 111 light years away in the constellation Leo. When the planet K2-18b was first discovered in 2015, it was found to be orbiting within the star’s habitable zone, making it an ideal candidate to have liquid surface water, a key element in harboring conditions for life as we know it.The data set used by the researchers came from the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) using the ESO’s 3.6m telescope at La Silla Observatory, in Chile. HARPS allows for measurements of radial velocities of stars, which can be affected ...

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