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Super-Earth and sub-Neptune found orbiting a red dwarf star

26 Oct 2020, 12:00 UTC
Super-Earth and sub-Neptune found orbiting a red dwarf star
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Size comparison of TOI-1266 b, TOI-1266 c, Earth, Venus and Mercury. Image via Institute of Astronomy, UNAM/ Juan Carlos Yustis/ Centauri Dreams.
Astronomers have discovered exoplanets orbiting various types of distant stars, including small, cool red dwarfs, which are the most common kind of star in our galaxy. Now, astronomers from the University of Bern using the SAINT-EX Observatory in Mexico have reported the discovery of two more planets orbiting the red dwarf star TOI-1266, 120 light-years from Earth. The two are an interesting study in red dwarf planets – perhaps the most common sorts of planets in our Milky Way galaxy – in part because they demonstrate how orbiting such a star affects these worlds’ chances to be life-bearing.
The innermost of the two planets – TOI-1266 b – is just under 2 1/2 times Earth’s diameter and so is classified as a sub-Neptune (smaller than Neptune but much larger than Earth). The outer planet – TOI-1266 c – is just over 1 1/2 times Earth’s diameter, making it a super-Earth (smaller than Neptune but a bit larger than Earth).
We’re calling them “inner” and “outer,” but in fact both planets orbit quite close to their star, completing their ...

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