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  • Artist’s impression of the planet Ross 128 b

    Artist’s impression of the planet Ross 128 b | Photo: ESO

Published 15 November 2017

A team working with the HARPS instrument (High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher) in Northern Chile, has discovered a promising exoplanet

The exoplanet Ross 128b is only 11 light years from our Solar System, has a temperate climate, is the size of Earth and orbits a red dwarf star called Ross 128, which may make it possible to harbor life.

This Earth-sized world is expected to be temperate, with a surface temperature that may also be close to that of the Earth. Ross 128 is one of the nearest stars to host such a temperate exoplanet. The discovery was made at the La Silla Observatory in Chile

“This discovery is based on more than a decade of HARPS intensive monitoring together with state-of-the-art data reduction and analysis techniques. Only HARPS has demonstrated such a precision and it remains the best planet hunter of its kind, 15 years after it began operations,” explains Nicola Astudillo-Defru (Geneva Observatory – University of Geneva, Switzerland), who co-authored the discovery paper.

Astronomers continue to find more and more exoplanets, with many more being discovered every year as the techniques involved in finding exoplanets evolve. As one of the astronomers at the La Silla Observatory in Chile, which is involved in the findings explains:

“New facilities at ESO (European Southern Observatory) will first play a critical role in building the census of Earth-mass planets amenable to characterization. In particular, NIRPS, the infrared arm of HARPS, will boost our efficiency in observing red dwarfs, which emit most of their radiation in the infrared. And then, the ELT will provide the opportunity to observe and characterize a large fraction of these planets,” concludes Xavier Bonfils.

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