The recently discovered exoplanet is a delight for astronomers. Only 186 light-years away, the small world is the same size as our planet and has one of the most intriguing characteristics.
The most unexpected thing is that it’s whipping around its star on an orbit that takes exactly 3,14 days. Astronomers called it the Pi Earth, even if the exoplanet’s official name is K2-315b.
The first hints of the Earth-like planet existence emerged back in 2017 when the Kepler Space Telescope ran its second, extended mission. Here is what you need to know.
Pi Earth’s Traits Revealed
Astronomer Prajwal Niraula and his team examined the star with SPECULOOS to confirm the exoplanet’s detection. SPECULOOS is a network of telescopes operating together to hunt precisely for Earth-like exoplanets around dim dwarf stars.
The team succeeded to obtain a spectrum of the star using the HIRES tool at the W. M. Keck Observatory. The dips were entirely consistent with the 3.14-day timing tracked by Kepler initially. The spectrum of the star confirmed that the dips are clearly the result of a transiting exoplanet.
Getting all this data, the team determined that K2-315b is approximately 95 % of Earth’s size. At such a dimension, the exoplanet is most likely rocky, similar to our planet, but to Venus, Mars, and Mercury, too. The chances for life to exist are non-existent.
To determine Pi Earth’s other traits, the team needs to run more tests and conduct further research. The planet could be an excellent target for follow-up research, and that’s because small, dim stars don’t glare as brightly as their bigger siblings. They also present a better opportunity to search for atmospheres when the exoplanet transits.
The team discussed the importance of the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope. The telescope will be able to make a detection with only 40 transits. The team, however, plans to continue their research using SPECULOOS.
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