Super-Earth discovered orbiting Suns nearest star

Barnard's star b's surface

This artist’s impression shows the frigid surface of Barnard’s star

Barnard's star has been observed extensively over the years, partly because it's so close, partly because it's a prototypic example of a red dwarf star. Calculations of the star's apparent motion by the astronomer who discovered it, E. E. Barnard, found that its total velocity with respect to the Sun is a whopping 500, 000 kilometres an hour. "Hopefully we got it right this time", said Guillem Anglada Escude from Queen Mary's School of Physics and Astronomy. This is well beyond the habitable zone in which liquid water, and possibly life, could exist, researchers said. The experts estimate that the surface temperature of the planet is around -170 degrees Celcius which is -274 Fahrenheit.

Now that this planet appears to be a real world, Teske says that there are many unanswered questions she hopes to resolve quickly, such as what the surface is made of, or if it has an atmosphere.

The method they used to find the planet is called the radial velocity (or reflex velocity, which conveniently has the same initials RV) method.

Using the same method, known as the Doppler method, the team spotted both planets due to the slight gravitational pull they exert on their host stars causing them to wobble. Recently, scientists revealed the Super-Earth and this might throw light on our planet's nearest planetary neighbours. When the planet moves closer to the star, the starlight is shifted toward shorter, blue wavelengths (called blueshift) and when the planet moves farther away from the star, the starlight shifts toward longer, red wavelengths (called redshift).

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The team, led by Ignasi Ribas of the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC) and Institute of Space Sciences (IEEC-CSIC), dubbed the planet candidate "Barnard's star b", or GJ 699 b.

Earlier it was reported that scientists have discovered a potentially habitable planet at a distance of 200 light years.

That seemed to be the case when a team of researchers started checking archival data for Barnard's star images.

If confirmed, the exoplanet would be the second-closest planet known beyond our solar system, and a prime target for further research. The exoplanet is also much closer to its star than Earth, at just 0.4 times the distance between Earth and the sun.

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Various science-fiction authors - notably Douglas Adams, Arthur C. Clarke and Michael Moorcock - have written about an alien world around Barnard's Star, which at six light years away is relatively close to our corner of the galaxy. "This signal implies that the Barnard´s star approaches and moves away from us at about 1.2 metres per second - approximately the walking speed of a person - and it is best explained by a planet orbiting", Ribas added. So they obtained time on some telescopes to do an extensive monitoring campaign in 2016 and 2017, including simultaneous observations with more than one instrument.

"If you take the specs of how it should perform, it should easily image this planet". Teams of semi-professional astronomers coordinated by the American Association of Variable Star Observers also contributed to the detection. This is because Barnard's Star is a dwarf star.

Rodrigo Diaz, an astronomer at the University of Buenos Aires who was not involved in the new work, said that, while the findings are promising, he'd still like to see more evidence of the new planet's existence.

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