Astronomers find exoplanet orbiting Barnard’s star, fourth closest stellar neighbor

Mindy Sparks
November 18, 2018

"It's about seven light-years away, " Guinan said. Barnard's star b completes an orbit around its sun every 233 days.

Scientists at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) have discovered the second nearest planet to Earth, outside our solar system.

The researchers also detected hints of another possible planet in the system, orbiting farther out than Barnard's Star b - way farther out, with an orbital period of 6,600 Earth days.

"After a very careful analysis, we are over 99% confident that the planet is there", said lead author Ignasi Ribas. Unfortunately, no... the Independent has also reported that the planet is located beyond what is known as the "snow line", which is the point at which liquid water or any chances of life could possibly exist. Only the Alpha Centauri triple system is closer.

This breakthrough, announced in a paper published by the journal Nature, is part of the Red Dots and CARMENES projects, which previously helped uncovered Proxima Centauri.

This planet is revolving round a dwarf star that the scientists named Barnard which is also known as a "Red Dwarf" and is one of the nearest to our sun.

Barnard's star, because of proximity to Earth, is one of the most studied areas within the Milky Way Galaxy.

That exoplanet, called Proxima b, orbits around the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri. It's the closest single star to our own solar system.

Follow-up observations of the newly discovered exoplanet are now underway.

However, detectable signals of a wobble from Earth-sized planets tugging on their host star are faint, and largely swamped by noise generated by the boiling surface activity of the stars themselves.

By combining archival data from other teams with new, overlapping calculations, the team collected a "huge amount of information": a total of 771 measurements.

It's really near and therefore if you have the hope - like I do - of eventually seeing these planets to study them in detail we have to start with the immediate ones.

One light year is equal to the distance travelled by light in one year so any visible light from the newly discovered planet is six years old. "However, we must remain cautious and collect more data to nail the case in the future, because natural variations of the stellar brightness resulting from star spots can produce similar effects to the ones detected".

For astronomers, it is a "cold and dark world".

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