Astronomers Discover Earth-sized Planet Orbiting Ultra-cool Red Dwarf Star

Astronomers Discover Earth-sized Planet Orbiting Ultra-cool Red Dwarf Star

An international team of astronomers has discovered a new Earth-sized planet. It orbits an ultra-cool red dwarf star located 55 light years away. This planet is only the second of its kind found around this type of star.

Characteristics of SPECULOOS-3 b

  • Orbit: Takes around 17 hours to complete an orbit.
  • Star: Ultra-cool red dwarf, more than twice as cold as our sun, ten times less massive, and a hundred times less luminous.
  • Rotation: Likely tidally locked, with one side always facing the star.

Discovery Process

  • Project: SPECULOOS (Search for Planets EClipsing ULtra-cOOl Stars).
  • Collaboration: Led by the University of Liège in Belgium, with participation from other institutions.
  • Method: Uses a network of robotic telescopes around the world to search for exoplanets orbiting ultra-cool dwarf stars.
  • Significance: Helps in the detection of rocky planets suitable for detailed studies.

Importance of Ultra-cool Dwarf Stars

  • Commonality: Comprise around 70% of stars in the Milky Way.
  • Observation Challenge: Faint and scattered across the sky, requiring weeks of observation to detect transiting planets.

Future Prospects

  • Observation Expansion: Incorporation of observations from telescopes in both hemispheres.
  • Scientific Contributions: Offers insights into rocky planets orbiting low mass stars.
  • Longevity: Ultra-cool dwarf stars have a lifespan over 100 billion years, potentially conducive to the development of life on orbiting planets.

Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs):

  1. What is the name of the newly discovered Earth-sized planet?
    • A) TRAPPIST-1
    • B) SPECULOOS-3 b
    • C) Kepler-186f
    • D) Proxima Centauri b
    • Answer: B) SPECULOOS-3 b
  2. How long does SPECULOOS-3 b take to complete an orbit?
    • A) 24 hours
    • B) 17 hours
    • C) 48 hours
    • D) 10 hours
    • Answer: B) 17 hours
  3. What is the primary goal of the SPECULOOS project?
    • A) Search for black holes
    • B) Search for exoplanets around ultra-hot stars
    • C) Search for exoplanets around ultra-cool dwarf stars
    • D) Study galaxy formations
    • Answer: C) Search for exoplanets around ultra-cool dwarf stars
  4. What percentage of stars in the Milky Way are comprised of ultra-cool dwarf stars?
    • A) 30%
    • B) 50%
    • C) 70%
    • D) 90%
    • Answer: C) 70%
  5. Which telescope is expected to provide further insights into SPECULOOS-3 b’s surface mineralogy and potential atmosphere?
    • A) Hubble Space Telescope
    • B) Kepler Space Telescope
    • C) James Webb Space Telescope
    • D) Chandra X-ray Observatory
    • Answer: C) James Webb Space Telescope