Compact System of Super-Earths Found around Lacaille 9352 | Astronomy

USQ team help discover 'Super-Earths' orbiting nearby star

Super Earths Discovered Orbiting Nearby Red Dwarf Gliese 887

"(2020), A multiple planet system of super-Earths orbiting the brightest red dwarf star GJ887".

The researchers also detected an unconfirmed signal, raising hopes of a third planet with a more "temperate" orbit, but they are "cautious" about the finding.

"We also discovered two interesting facts about Lacaille 9352, which turn out to be good news not only for the newly-discovered planets but also for astronomers", they said.

The multiplanetary system of the newly discovered super Earths orbiting close to the red dwarf star Gliese 887 is seen in this artist's print. Mark Garlick  Flyer via REUTERS

The star is a red dwarf, and the planets may lie within the star's habitable zone.

An global team of researchers has found multiple planet systems orbiting red dwarf star Gliese 887. The study as been published in the journal Science based on decades of data. The nearest star to the Sun - Proxima Centauri - is an example of a red dwarf.

University of Göttingen astronomer Sandra Jeffers and her colleagues from the RedDots team monitored Lacaille 9352 using the HARPS (High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher) spectrograph on ESO's La Silla 3.6-m telescope. Gliese 887 is exceptionally inactive in terms of energetic outbursts and dark starspots, meaning it could be hospitable to life on the planets in its orbit.

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Gliese 887b and Gliese 887c are located near their star's habitable zone, an area where liquid water may potentially exist. Scientists also estimate Gliese 887c to be around 70 ° C.

The global "RedDots" team - joined by Australian astronomers at UNSW Sydney, Macquarie University and University of Southern Queensland for this work - has detected a system of super-Earth planets orbiting the brightest red dwarf star in the sky, Gliese 887. If the star was as active as Sun, it could have eroded a planet's atmosphere.

So, the newly discovered planets could possibly have retained their atmospheres, or have thicker atmospheres than the Earth indicating that they could potentially host life. It's believed that these newfound planets are indeed in or at least near the habitable zone, making them very interesting to anyone who is searching for life outside of Earth.

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"The other interesting feature we discovered is that the brightness of Lacaille 9352 is nearly constant". Their proximity offers a promising opportunity to study exoplanet atmospheres using the soon to be launched James Webb Space Telescope.

Their distance from their host star is much shorter than that of the Earth-Sun relationship.

"The brightness of Gliese 887 is really very constant", he said.

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"These planets will provide the best possibilities for more detailed studies, including the search for life outside our Solar System", Jeffers said in a news release. Planets tend to orbit these stars so closely, putting them in range of intense solar flares and radiation.

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