Department News

Mar 04, 2021 - A blazing nearby super-Earth

A hot super-Earth in our neighbourhood promises to be a suitable candidate to test rocky planet atmosphere models.

During the recent two and a half decades, astronomers have discovered thousands of exoplanets made of gas, ice and rock. Only a few of them are Earth-like. However, probing their atmospheres with the currently available instrumentation is challenging at best. Now, astronomers of the CARMENES consortium have published a new study, led by Trifon Trifonov from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, which reports the discovery of a hot rocky super-Earth orbiting the nearby red dwarf star Gliese 486. Despite its small separation from the parent star, the planet designated Gliese 486b possibly has retained a part of its original atmosphere. Therefore, Gliese 486b is uniquely suited to examine its atmosphere and interior with the next generation of space-borne and ground-based telescopes. The results are published in the journal Science.
Dr. Vera Maria Passegger,  postdoc in the Homer L. Dodge Department
for Physics and Astronomy, contributed to characterizing the planet by
deriving fundamental parameters of the host star. An accurate and precise
determination of the star's mass, radius, and temperature is essential for
constraining the size of the planet itself, and therefore its bulk
density, and as well as for estimating the surface temperature.
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