Astronomers discover a warm super-Earth near a red dwarf

A team of astronomers from Switzerland and Austria reported the discovery of a previously unknown exoplanet. It orbits a red dwarf close to Earth.

A red dwarf in the artist’s image. Source: NASA

The discovery was made using the ESPRESSO spectrograph (Echelle SPectrograph for Rocky Exoplanets and Stable Spectroscopic Observations) installed on the ESO’s Very Large Telescope. It detected deviations in the radial velocity of the red dwarf L 363-38, located 33 light-years from Earth. During the analysis of the data and subsequent observations made with the help of other telescopes, astronomers confirmed that these fluctuations are caused by the presence of an invisible companion star.

The newly discovered exoplanet is a super-Earth. Its mass is 4.67 times the mass of our planet, and its radius is estimated in the range from 1.55 to 2.75 terrestrial. The orbit of the exoplanet passes at a distance of 0.048 AU (7.2 million km from the star) at the inner edge of its habitable zone. The equilibrium temperature of its surface is estimated at 58 °C.

The results of observations suggest that there may be other planets in the L 363-38 system. It is possible that their orbits may also be located in the area of the habitable zone. Therefore, astronomers plan to continue observations of this system and hope that the James Webb Telescope will also take part in them.

You can also read about what prevents the emergence of life in red dwarf systems.

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