Astronomers have discovered 15 new planets orbiting small, cool stars named red dwarfs near our solar system. Among these new planets is a potentially habitable ‘super-Earth’ that could have liquid oceans like ours.
The planet, known as K2-155d, has three transiting super-Earths. It is 1.6 times the size of Earth and is within the host star’s habitable zone 200 light years away.
KEY FACTS ON THE DISCOVERY:
The findings, published in The Astronomical Journal, are based on data from NASA Kepler spacecraft’s second mission, K2, and follow-up observations using ground-based telescopes, including the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii and the Nordic Optical Telescope (NOT) in Spain
Based on climate simulations, researchers say the new Earth-like planet, K2-155d, could have liquid water on the surface
A more precise estimate of the radius and temperature of the K2-155 star would be needed to conclude definitively whether K2-155d is habitable
A key outcome of the current studies was that planets orbiting red dwarfs may have remarkably similar characteristics to planets orbiting solar-type stars
Currently on the fastest spacecraft New Horizons, which travels at 51,500kmh, it would take more than four million years to get to K2-155d With the planned launch of NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) in April 2018, scientists are hopeful that even more planets will be discovered.