Indian scientists discover new planet 600 light years away

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At least three rocky planets have been found, two of them being 1.1 times the radius of Earth, and the third planet being nearly the exact size. The star, which is located roughly 160 light years from Earth, isn't like our Sun.

Scientists, from the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) at Ahmedabad have put India in the elite league of countries who have discovered planets around stars.

The exoplanet is reported to be smaller than Saturn but bigger than Neptune. This is the first of its kind spectrograph in the country, which can measure the mass of a planet moving around a star. The discovery was made by measuring the mass of the planet using the indigenously designed "PRL Advance Radial-velocity Abu-sky Search" (PARAS) spectrograph integrated with 1.2m Telescope at PRL's Gurushikhar Observatory in Mount Abu, India.

The planet has been named EPIC 211945201b or K2-236b and it's big - around 27 times more massive than Earth.

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In the end, also in the news is the discovery of three Earth-sized planets, made by Spanish astronomers. It contains at least three rocky planets, the radius of which is equal to or approximately equal to the earth, and the weight is 1.4, 0.9 and 1.3 times the mass of Earth.

On the other hand, only a few such accurate and powerful spectrographs exist around the world, the majority of which being in the United States and Europe. It is seven times closer to the star as compared to the distance between the Earth and the Sun. The PRL scientists observed the target for around 420 days for probing the nature of the system using the PARAS spectrograph.

However, calculations suggest that the heavy elements, ice, silicates, and iron content are 60-70 % of the total mass. "Over the next few years, I expect that they will be able to make further contributions to this exciting field of astronomy".

Exoplanets themselves aren't that rare these days - we have confirmed the existence of 3,786 of them. However, he said, radial velocity observations as made in this case "are not, in general, discovery observations but [a] look at already known planetary systems for a better understanding of their nature".

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