Humans are constantly trying to find out more about our universe. The search for aliens is still going on for many of our scientists. However, a new research study from NASA reports about the discovery of a ‘baby’ planet orbiting a closeby red dwarf star. NASA named them as ‘AU Mic b’, and orbiting, AU Microscopii, or ‘AU Mic’. The newfound planet is approximately the size of Neptune. AU Mic is a red dwarf planet, which is the smallest and coolest variety of all the stars in the broad range of stars found in our universe and is also of low mass.
The planet is the second closest young star to Earth. This is an exciting discovery, especially as the planet is in one of the most well-known young star systems, and the second-closest to Earth, says Michael Bottom, co-author of the research study.
31.9 light-years away, an M dwarf called AU Microscopii – AU Mic for short – is actively flaring with the energy of a fiery young star. Scientists just discovered a planet bathed in these blasts. Get the poster based on real science: https://t.co/5yQFBVhm2O pic.twitter.com/f56AkoTT5V
— NASA Exoplanets (@NASAExoplanets) June 24, 2020
NASA studies Baby Planet to understand Earth’s Origins
A group of astronomers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, who are a part of an international team, discovered about this planet. AU Mic b requires only eight and a half days to complete one full orbit. NASA’s TESS planet-finding satellite recently spotted the Baby planet as it passed in front of AU Mic periodically.
Every time it passed the star, it blocked a small fraction of its light. A confirmation of the signal was provided by the observations from the Spitzer Space Telescope and with the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) located on the island of Maunakea in Hawaii. For the observations made on the island, a new instrument known as iSHELL, that measures the motion of stars such as the AU Mic accurately.
In his research, Eric Gaidos, another co-author of the study, talks about how the findings from the star and the planet can facilitate future discoveries. Gaidos added that AU Mic b, and any kindred planets that are discovered in the future, will be intensely studied to understand how planets form and evolve. Fortuitously, this star and its planet are in our universe only. NASA does not have to venture very far to see the show.
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Suryapratim Ray is an engineer, author, robotics hobbyist, and an active Quoran. Being a technical blogger, he covers the good, bad, and ugly of science on a regular basis at Sciencenews18. In addition to his passion for writing, he’s equally keen on learning classical music.