We Just Found 2 of The Most Earth-Like Exoplanets Yet, Only 12.5 Light Years Away CARLY CASSELLA 19 JUN 2019
Astronomers are convinced they've found two new Earth-like planets in our galaxy, and both appear so similar to our own, they're now among the top 19 known exoplanets with potentially habitable environments.
Orbiting a neighbouring star in the constellation of Aries just 12.5 light years away, one of these two planets might in fact hold the greatest similarity to Earth we've discovered so far.
"The two planets resemble the inner planets of our Solar System," explains lead author Mathias Zechmeister, an astrophysicist at the University of Göttingen.
"They are only slightly heavier than Earth and are located in the so-called habitable zone, where water can be present in liquid form."
Despite its proximity, this nearby Teegarden's star was only discovered back in 2003. About ten times lighter than our own Sun and one of the smallest stars we know of, the old red dwarf, which is roughly 8 billion years old, has proved a challenge to research.
According to the team, other planetary systems around similar stars have always been detected using the transit method, when an orbiting planet passes in front of a star, blocking Earth's view and causing the bright celestial object to darken for a brief moment.
The alignment and dimness of Teegarden wouldn't lend itself to this method however, so astronomers instead used the CARMENES next-generation telescope designed specifically for such situations. Located at Spain's Calar Alto Observatory, the instrument allowed the researchers to look for any changes in the mini-star's radial velocity.
After three years of close observation, watching for any 'wobbles' produced by orbiting objects, more than 200 measurements indicate the existence of two new planets, now denominated as Teegarden b and Teegarden c.
European Southern Observatory (ESO) Uploaded on Nov 26, 2015
This animation shows how astronomers use very precise spectrographs such as the HARPS instrument on the 3.6-metre telescope at La Silla, Chile to find exoplanets. As the planet orbits its gravitational pull causes the parent star to move back and forth. This tiny radial motion shifts the observed spectrum of the star by a correspondingly small amount because of the Doppler shift. With super-sensitive spectrographs such as HARPS the shifts can be measured and used to infer details of a planet’s mass and orbit.