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Twin super-Earths discovered 111 light years away

6 Dec 2017, 16:41 UTC
Twin super-Earths discovered 111 light years away
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K2-18 is a red dwarf star with two Super-Earths in its orbit. Image credit: A. Boersma
A recent study of a star 111 light years away, called K2-18, has uncovered an intriguing planetary system in its midst. The research conducted has revealed that not only is one of its previously-known orbiting exoplanets a super-Earth, but it now has a partnering exoplanet much closer to the star.
The University of Montreal-led team used the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) instrument attached to the European Southern Observatory’s 3.6-metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory, Chile to make measurements of KB-18b’s mass and density. In a surprising turn of events, astronomers also noticed the presence of another planet within the system, which was described as “lucky and equally exciting” by the University of Montreal doctorate student Ryan Cloutier.
Both of these planets orbit the red dwarf star K2-18 located in the constellation of Leo. The first exoplanet was discovered back in 2015, however the only information they could deduce is that the planet orbited the star within its habitable zone – the region where liquid water could hypothetically exist as a liquid. This is an important aspect astronomers look for when ...

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