Mexican astronomers find Saturn-sized planet orbiting small, cool star

Astronomers have found over 4,200 extrasolar planets that orbit around stars

Mexican astronomers find Saturn-sized planet orbiting small, cool star
Artist's conception of dwarf star TVLM-513-46546 and its newly-discovered planetary companioN - Photo: Luis A. Curiel Ramirez/Taken from NROA's website
English 05/08/2020 13:58 Newsroom Mexico City Actualizada 13:58
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A group of astronomers led by Mexican Salvador Curiel Ramírez from the Astronomy Institute of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) was able to locate an extrasolar planet that orbited an ultra-cool red dwarf star.

In order to find the planet, which is the size of Saturn and is 35 light-years from the Earth, the scientists used the sharp radio  “vision” of the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) of the National Foundation of Sciences.

The research was possible thanks to the work of Rosa Martha Torrez López, from the University of Guadalajara; Gisela Ortiz de León, from Germany’s Max Planck Institute; and Amy Mioduszewski, from the U.S. National Radio Astronomy (NRAO).

The U.S. institution reported in a statement that this is the first time an extrasolar planet is located outside the solar system with a radio telescope that uses astrometry, a technique that uses highly precise measures.

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It is due to the accuracy required by this method that it has been difficult to use, although the technique has been known for a long time as it involves tracking the real movement of a star in space.

Since June 2018, the group of experts followed the dwarf star known as TVLM513-46546. One of its characteristics is that it has less than a tenth part of our Sun’s mass.

In a previous analysis, the researchers also used observations made between March 2010 and August 2011. Among the results they found regarding this extrasolar planet, which is closer to its star than Mercury to the Sun, is that it travels through its orbit in 221 days.

Small, cool stars, such as TVLM 513–46546, are the largest group in the Milky Way and it has been discovered that many of them have smaller planets, comparable to Earth and Mars.

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“It is expected that giant planets, like Jupiter and Saturn, be rare around small stars like this one, and the astrometric technique is the best to find planets similar to Jupiter in wide orbits, so it surprised us to find one with a lower mass,” said Salvador Curiel.

The NRAO report mentions astronomers have found that over 4,200 planets that turn around stars different to our Sun.

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