Two or maybe even three super-Earths are detected orbiting the brightest red dwarf star in the sky.
This system, known as GJ 887, has the mass half of that of our Sun. Being one of the closest multi-planet systems to our solar system, it is just 11 light-years away. This has given the astronomers a great opportunity to study the atmosphere of these exoplanets.
The massive super-Earths are larger than the Earth, but smaller than Uranus and Neptune.
Chris Tinney from Australia’s University of NSW who was the co-author of a paper in the journal Science, says, “We now know of thousands of planets of super-Earth-mass or smaller, but most of those planets orbit distant and faint stars.”
He also adds, “Planets orbiting nearby stars are key for searches with future telescopes for both exoplanetary atmospheres, and eventually evidence for life.”
To observe GJ 887, Sandra Jefferes from Germany’s University of Göttingen carried the research for three months. She used Doppler wobble and then, combined the data with archival measurements of the star-spanning for nearly 20 years.
Melvyn Davies from Sweden University in Lund writes in an article in a journal, “If someone had to live around a red dwarf, they would want to choose a quieter star-like GJ 887.”
“If further observations confirm the presence of the third planet in the habitable zone, then GJ 887 could become one of the most studied planetary systems in the solar neighbourhood.”
Two Earth-sized planets were detected around a red dwarf star with orbital periods of 9.3 and 21.8 days. Also, the third exoplanet is suspected in the system. This third planet is expected to be present in the location known as ‘habitable zone.’
GJ 887 is much less active as compared to the oher red dwarfs. And therefore, the scientists are expecting it to be spared from the harmful solar flaress which is common to such stars.