India achieves a new height, discovers new planet

Mindy Sparks
June 11, 2018

Otherwise, the planets are probably inhospitable: they are very close to their star and therefore very warm. Researchers at the Indian Lab have discovered an exoplanet (a planet outside our solar system), larger than Neptune but smaller than Saturn, around 600 light years away from Earth. It is closer to Neptune, he added. In comparison with the Earth's distance to the sun, the planet is seven times nearer to its star - such conditions might render the star inhabitable. Such a high temperature might make it uninhabitable for living creatures.

The found planet is reportedly a sub-Saturn or super-Neptune-sized planet which has a radius six times that of earth, ISRO stated in its announcement on Friday. The scientists estimate that over 60% of its mass could be made up of heavy elements like ice, silicates and iron. Since the planet revolves around host star EPIC 211945201 or K2-236, it will be known as EPIC 211945201b or K2-236b - ISRO said. Now, a trio of new rocky worlds has been discovered orbiting a distant star, and while they're a lot like Earth in terms of size, they're a bit steamier.

The Indian team from the PRL employed their "PRL Advance Radial-velocity Abu-sky Search" (PARAS) spectrograph with which they measured the mass of the new exoplanet.

PARAS was integrated with a 1.2m telescope at PRL's Gurushikhar Observatory in Mount Abu, India. The temperature of the surface of the newly-found planet is around 600 degrees Celsius.

"The spectrograph is the first of its kind in the country which can measure the mass of a planet going around a star". It was designed by the members of the Astronomy and Astrophysics Division of PRL. "Very few such spectrographs exist around the world (mostly in the United States of America and in the Europe) that can do such precise measurements", the space agency said on its website late on June 8.

The scientists observed the target over a time 420 days or about 1.5 years. It is expected to be launched in 2020. It's very hard to discover an exoplanet because they are usually billions of times fainter than the stars they orbit.

The first exoplanet was discovered in the early 1990s.

According to, the important discovery of these new planetary systems was made possible by the K2 mission that was undertaken with the use of NASA's Kepler satellite, with work that began in earnest in November, 2013.

Also published on Medium.

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