Japan discovers habitable super-Earth

The mysterious Super-Earth, 37 light-years away, has been detected by a new instrument aboard the Subaru Telescope at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.

Super-Earth. The new Earth, named Ross 508b, is 37 light-years from Earth and orbits a red dwarf star in the constellation Crab.

According to SciTech Daily, Ross 508b has four times the mass of Earth. Earth and orbit so close to its parent star that Earth has only 11 days in a year. However, the red dwarf is a smaller and cooler star than the Sun, so its Goldilocks "habitable zone" is also closer. The orbit of super-Earth Ross 508b largely coincides with this habitable zone.


Orbits of the red dwarf Ross 508 and the super-Earth Ross 508b. The faint green marker is the star's "live zone", and the blue oval is the orbit of Ross 508b. (Image: Center for Astrobiology)

Red dwarfs are stars that make up three-quarters of the stars in Earth's galaxies in the Milky Way, but because they are so small and dim telescopes are very difficult to see.

Red dwarfs are easier to see at infrared wavelengths, so a team of scientists at the Japan Center for Astrobiology designed designed a new infrared observation device, the infrared Doppler IRD, to be installed in the telescope to add more power to the Subaru "Magic Eye".

Ross 508b was the first result of this innovation. This super-Earth has an elliptical orbit, and despite its proximity to the star's habitable zone, it is perfectly capable of preserving liquid water - a prerequisite for life.

Even within the solar system, leading space agencies like NASA, ESA, and others can almost certainly explore worlds beyond the habitable zone, such as the moon Europa of Jupiter, Saturn's moons Enceladus and Titan, and even the dwarf planet Pluto.

According to IRD executive team member Professor Fumei Sato of the Tokyo Institute of Technology, they has researched and developed this technology for 14 years and is working hard to find more worlds like Ross 508b.

For Ross 508b, scientists will continue to study it and analyze the data in more detail for clues to water - if any - and other possible signs of life.

The study was just published in the journal Nature Society. Japanese text.


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