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Revisiting the Barnard’s Star Debate

10 Dec 2018, 18:24 UTC
Revisiting the Barnard’s Star Debate
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Title: A Candidate Super-Earth Planet Orbiting Near the Snow Line of Barnard’s StarAuthors: I. Ribas, M. Tuomi, A. Reiners, R. P. Butler, et al.First Author’s Institution: Institut de Ciencies de l’Espai, SpainStatus: Published in Nature, [open access on arxiv]
Planets Are Everywhere…Right? Sitting at only 6 light years from us, Barnard’s star is the closest single star from us and the second closest M dwarf (Proxima Centauri being the closest). This little 0.16 solar mass star has also been the subject of some serious debate and controversy over the possible existence of a planetary system. In the 1960s, Peter van de Kamp claimed a detection of not one but two planets orbiting at 12 and 20 days, with similar masses to Jupiter. However, multiple groups have been unable to reproduce these results. One study, highlighted in this bite, also ruled out planets with masses greater than 10 Earth masses and periods less than 2 years. If there are planets of smaller masses or on longer orbits, the observations up to this point just haven’t been precise enough to detect them.
But the authors of today’s paper didn’t give up on this tiny star. They observed Barnard’s star every possible ...

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