Exoplanets & Exomoons

Temperate Earth-sized Planets Transiting a Nearby Ultracool Dwarf Star

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
July 14, 2016
Filed under
Temperate Earth-sized Planets Transiting a Nearby Ultracool Dwarf Star
Extrasolar planet

Star-like objects with effective temperatures of less than 2,700 kelvin are referred to as ultracool dwarfs.

This heterogeneous group includes stars of extremely low mass as well as brown dwarfs (substellar objects not massive enough to sustain hydrogen fusion), and represents about 15 per cent of the population of astronomical objects near the Sun.

Core-accretion theory predicts that, given the small masses of these ultracool dwarfs, and the small sizes of their protoplanetary disk, there should be a large but hitherto undetected population of terrestrial planets orbiting them – ranging from metal-rich Mercury-sized planets to more hospitable volatile-rich Earth-sized planets. Here we report observations of three short-period Earth-sized planets transiting an ultracool dwarf star only 12 parsecs away. The inner two planets receive four times and two times the irradiation of Earth, respectively, placing them close to the inner edge of the habitable zone of the star.

Our data suggest that 11 orbits remain possible for the third planet, the most likely resulting in irradiation significantly less than that received by Earth. The infrared brightness of the host star, combined with its Jupiter-like size, offers the possibility of thoroughly characterizing the components of this nearby planetary system.

Michael Gillon, Emmanuel Jehin, Susan M. Lederer, Laetitia Delrez, Julien de Wit, Artem Burdanov, Valerie Van Grootel, Adam J. Burgasser, Amaury H. M. J. Triaud, Cyrielle Opitom, Brice-Olivier Demory, Devendra K. Sahu, Daniella Bardalez Gagliuffi, Pierre Magain, Didier Queloz
(Submitted on 23 May 2016)

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Journal reference: Nature, Volume 533, Issue 7602, pp. 221-224 (2016)
DOI: 10.1038/nature17448
Cite as: arXiv:1605.07211 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1605.07211v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Michael Gillon
[v1] Mon, 23 May 2016 20:39:04 GMT (4328kb)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻