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LHS 1140b - A Super-Earth in the Habitable Zone

21 Apr 2017, 11:29 UTC
LHS 1140b - A Super-Earth in the Habitable Zone
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We're getting our first good characterizations of terrestrial exoplanets lately. First, news broke of a possible planet around the nearest star to our Sun, Proxima Centauri. Then, we explored TRAPPIST-1, a mini solar system just 39 light-years away. Now, researchers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics announced the discovery today of a possible super-Earth orbiting an M-dwarf star just 34 light-years away. The discovery was published in the April 20th Nature. An artist’s impression of exoplanet LHS 1140 orbiting a red dwarf star 41 light-years distant. ESO/SpaceEngine.orgLHS 1140b is a tantalizing find. It is cool, red host, LHS 1140, contains only 15% the mass of our Sun and is at least 5 billion years old. The planet passes in front of its star once every 15 days as seen from Earth. Jason Dittman (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) and the team combined discovery data from the MEarth project with radial-velocity measurements from the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) survey. The high-resolution follow-up observations enabled researchers to calculate the planet's orbital parameters and physical characteristics to a high degree of precision: The super-Earth, containing between 4.8 and 8.5 times Earth's mass, orbits just 0.09 astronomical units from its primary (almost ...

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