Super-Earth orbits a red dwarf star in only 2.4 days

Shane McGlaun - Apr 18, 2021, 11:02am CDT
Super-Earth orbits a red dwarf star in only 2.4 days

Astronomers have made an interesting discovery of a super-Earth planet that’s orbiting a red dwarf star called GJ-740. A red dwarf star is significantly cooler than the Sun, with a surface temperature between 2400 and 3700 kelvin. That is a difference of over 2000 degrees cooler than the Sun.

A red dwarf is also less massive than the Sun at between 0.08 and 0.45 solar masses. GJ-740 is about 36 light-years away from Earth, and its super-Earth planet has a very fast orbit. The planet can circle its star in only 2.4 days. While the red dwarf is smaller than the Sun, the planet itself is about three times the mass of Earth.

Scientists believe it’s likely that this particular system will be the subject of intense research in the future. Using very large diameter telescopes available towards the end of the decade, scientists will be able to study the star and planet in-depth because the star is so close to the sun in the cosmic scheme of things, and the planet orbits so close to the star.

Researchers say the planet has the second shortest orbital period around this type of star known so far. The mass and the orbital period suggest it’s a rocky planet with a radius of about 1.4 times that of the Earth. Researchers believe details on the planet could be gathered in the future with observations from the TESS satellite.

The planet was discovered using the radial velocity method. That method is based on the detection of small variations in the velocity of a star due to the gravitational attraction of a planet in orbit around it. So far, 116 exoplanets have been discovered using the radial velocity method.


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