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Korean scientists discover a planet 13,000 light-years far from earth

Korean scientists discover a planet 13,000 light-years far from earth

Posted April. 27, 2017 07:24,   

Updated April. 27, 2017 07:32

Korean scientists has discovered a terrestrial planet outside the solar system for the first time since the establishment of its own astronomical observation system.

In its joint study with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the California Institute of Technology, the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI) announced on Wednesday that it has discovered an alien planet (OGLE-2016-BLG-1195Lb) with the equivalent mass and size of earth 13,000 light-years (1 light-year = approx. 9.46 trillion kilometers) away from earth. They used terrestrial telescope Korea Microlensing Telescope Network (KMTnet) and NASA’s space observatory Spitzer.

KMTnet, which is an astronomical observation network exclusively established by KASI in 2015, has stationed in Chile, South Africa, and Australia to discover the “next earth.” “By using both the terrestrial telescope (KMTnet) and space observatory (Spitzer), we can come up with an exact distance between earth and alien planet, as if locating the exact spot of an object with our naked eyes,” KASI senior researcher Lee Choong-wook said.

There are high possibilities that the recently discovered planet, which is 1.43 times heavier than earth, is comprised of rocks. The distance with its primary star is also 1.16AU; a similar distance between the sun and the earth at 1AU (AU: Astronomical Unit. 1AU = approx. 150 million kilometers). Still, the surface temperature is lower than that of Pluto (around minus 230 degrees Celsius) located on the outskirts of the solar system, as the new planet weighs only 7.8 percent of the sun and is a colder red dwarf star. Therefore, it is highly likely that an existing living organism remain scarce.

Among the planets discovered, the recent planet is relatively far from primary star. “This implies that terrestrial planets can be created in various conditions,” said Andrew Gould, an invitational researcher at KASI and a professor at Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany.

Most of the 3,600 or so alien planets discovered were close to the primary star, with less than 1AU of distance. Furthermore, the seven alien planets discovered near the 39 light-years away star “Trappist-1” were also 0.01 to 0.06AU near the primary star. This was due to the eclipse when stars are dimmed by passing planets. When the planet is located too far from primary star, the eclipse cannot be observed.