TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A planet has been discovered by astronomers in orbit around one of the closest stars to the sun, Barnard’s star.
The potentially rocky planet, known as Barnard’s star b, is a ‘super-Earth’ with a mass of at least 3.2 times that of the Earth, and it orbits around its host star once every 233 days.
The results, published in the journal Nature, show the planet lies at a distant region from the star known as the ‘snow line’. This is well beyond the habitable zone in which liquid water, and possibly life, could exist.
The planet’s surface temperature is estimated to be around -170 degrees Celsius meaning it is likely to be a frozen world which is uninviting to Earth-like life.
However, if the planet has a substantial atmosphere the temperature could be higher and conditions potentially more hospitable.
Dr. Guillem Anglada Escudé, from Queen Mary’s School of Physics and Astronomy, said: “Barnard’s star is an infamous object among astronomers and exoplanet scientists, as it was one of the first stars where planets were initially claimed but later proven to be incorrect. Hopefully we got it right this time.”
At nearly six light-years away Barnard’s star is the next closest star to the Sun after the Alpha Centauri triple system.
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