With the help of HARPS-N, astronomers at the University of Geneva discovered one new planetary system, three super-Earths and one giant outer planet just 21 light years away. It was deemed as being the closest transiting planet to our own and hopes have already sprung about taking pictures of this new unveiling.
Called HD219134, in lack of a catchier name for now, the new planetary system may be inconspicuous in name, but it’s quite remarkable in its nature. Found in the constellation Cassiopeia, it features one giant planet and three super-Earths, one of which transits in front of a dwarf star.
The start is reported as being a little colder and slightly smaller than the Sun, a 5th magnitude K dwarf that is so bright it’s visible to the naked eye from the dark skies among the Cassiopeia constellation.
Upon these findings, astronomer Ati Motalebi, from the University of Geneva asked NASA for time on their Spitzer telescope for further analysis in order to hopefully determine the size and constitution of the three newly discovered planets. The point was to find a transiting planet, like our own, which was precisely what they stumbled upon.
HD219134b transits the K dwarf star and, with the help of radial velocities obtained from our very own planet along with the Spitzer telescope’s findings, they were able to determine both the radius and density of the planet, now categorized as a super-Earth.
It is 4.5 times more massive than our planet and 1.6 times larger, meaning that its density is very close to Earth and has possibly a similar composition as well. While the latter is definitely a matter to still undergo investigation, it allowed for the new planet to be deemed a super-Earth, by being similar to our own.
The inner regions of the planetary system feature two other plants, both displaying traits that will place them in the same category. One has a mass of 2.7 times than the Earth and orbits the star in 6.8 days, while the second weighs 8.7 times more than our planets and orbits it in 46.8 days.
The findings could show proof of a compact planetary system, if all three of the planets prove themselves to be in a coplanar configuration, just like our own. With the new discovery, astronomers hope to be able to delve further into investigation and, perhaps with the aid of NASA, could soon provide images of the three new super-Earths.
Image source: straitstimes.com