Two potentially habitable Earth-like planets discovered around a star near the Sun

Two Earth-mass planets orbiting the star GJ 100

Artist’s impression of two Earth-mass planets orbiting the star GJ 1002. Credit: Alejandro Suárez Mascareño and Inés Bonet (IAC)

An international scientific team led by researchers from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) has discovered the presence of two planets with masses similar to Earth in orbit around the star GJ 1002, a red dwarf not far from the Solar System. Both planets are in the habitable zone of the star.

“Nature seems hell-bent on showing us that Earth-like planets are very common. With these two we already know 7 in planetary systems quite close to the Sun”, explains Alejandro Suárez Mascareño, IAC researcher and first author of the study published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.

The newly discovered exoplanets It orbits the star GJ 1002, which is less than 16 light-years from the Solar System. Both have masses similar to that of the Earth, and are in the habitable zone of his star. GJ 1002b, the inner of the two, takes just over 10 days to complete one orbit around the star, while GJ 1002c takes just over 21 days. “GJ 1002 is a red dwarf star, with just one eighth the mass of the Sun. It is a rather cool and dim star. This means that its habitable zone is very close to the star”, explains Vera María Passegger, co-author of the article and researcher at the IAC.

The proximity of the star to our Solar System implies that the two planets, especially GJ 1002c, are excellent candidates for characterizing their atmospheres based on their reflected light or thermal emission. “The future ANDES spectrograph for the ELT telescope in THAT in which the IAC participates, could study the presence of oxygen in the atmosphere of GJ 1002c”, points out Jonay I. González Hernández, IAC researcher and co-author of the article. In addition, both planets meet the necessary characteristics to be targets of the future LIFE mission, which is currently under study.

GJ 1002 Habitable Zone System Infographic

Infographic comparing the relative distance between the discovered planets and their star with the inner planets of the Solar System. The region marked in green represents the habitable zone of the two planetary systems. Credit: Design: Alejandro Suárez Mascareño (IAC). Planets of the Solar System: NASA

The discovery was made during a collaboration between the consortia of the two instruments ESPRESSO and CARMENES. GJ 1002 was observed by CARMENES between 2017 and 2019, and by ESPRESSO between 2019 and 2021. “Due to its low temperature, the visible light of GJ 1002 is too weak to measure its velocity variations with most spectrographs,” he says. Ignasi Ribas. , researcher at the Institute of Space Sciences (ICE-CSIC) and director of the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC). CARMENES has a sensitivity over a wide range of near-infrared wavelengths that is superior to that of other spectrographs designed to detect variations in the speeds of stars, and this allowed it to study GJ 1002, from the observatory’s 3.5-m telescope. of Calar Alto.

The combination of ESPRESSO and the light-gathering power of the VLT 8m telescopes in[{” attribute=””>ESO allowed measurements to be made with an DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/202244991

Other members of the IAC who have collaborated in this publication are the researchers Rafael Rebolo López, Víctor Sánchez Béjar and Enric Pallé.

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