Scientists at the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad have spotted for the first time a distant planet six times bigger than Earth.
According to an official release, ‘With this discovery India has joined a handful of countries which have discovered planets around stars’.
“The spectrograph is the first of its kind in the country which can measure the mass of a planet going around a star. Very few such spectrographs exist around the world (mostly in the USA and in the Europe) that can do such precise measurements,” the space agency said on its website late on June 8.
Planet seems to be revolving around a Sun-like star about 600 light years away. Both the planet and the star have been named EPIC.
The discovery was made using a PRL-designed spectrograph, PARAS, to measure and confirm the mass of the new planet. EPIC 211945201b (or K2-236b) is the name given to the planet by the discovery team led by PRL’s Abhijit Chakraborty. The host star is named EPIC 211945201 or K2-236.
The scientists observed the target over a time 420 days or about 1.5 years. They measured the mass of the planet using the indigenously designed PRL Advance Radial-velocity Abu-sky Search or PARAS spectrograph integrated with the 1.2-metre telescope located at PRL’s Gurushikhar Observatory in Mount Abu, Rajasthan.