Scientists discovers Wolf 503b exoplanet twice the size of Earth

Representational Image
Representational Image

New Delhi : An international team of scientists have discovered a new exoplanet twice the size of Earth. The discovery has been made by using data from NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, which says that the newly found exoplanet is located about 145 light years away. Named as 'Wolf 503b' it is in the Virgo constellation and it orbits its star every six days. It is about 10 times closer to the Sun than Mercury.

"'Wolf 503b' is one of the only planets with a radius near the gap that has a star that is bright enough to be amenable to more detailed study that will better constrain its true nature," explained Bjorn Benneke, Professor at the Universite de Montreal in Canada. "It provides a key opportunity to better understand the origin of this radius gap as well as the nature of the intriguing populations of 'super-Earths' and 'sub-Neptunes' as a whole."

In order to better understand 'Wolf 503b', the astronomers first obtained a spectrum of the host star at the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility.

They found that the star is an old "orange dwarf", slightly less luminous than the Sun but about twice as old, and allowed a short determination of the radius of both the star and its companion, the researchers explained, in a paper published in the Astronomical Journal. 

Also, the newly discovered exoplanet is moderately closer to Earth, and thus very bright. "By investigating the nature of 'Wolf 503b', we'll understand more about the structure of planets near the radius gap and more generally about the diversity of exoplanets present in our galaxy," said Merrin Peterson, a graduate student.