Indian Scientists for the first have discovered a Sub-Saturn or Super-Neputune exoplanet orbiting a Sun-like star. The planet which is found by a team led by Prof. Abhijit Chakraborty from Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad, will be named as EPIC 211945201b or K2-236b. It is about 27 Earth mass and a size of 6 Earth Radii. The recent discovery sees India to join the handful of countries who so far have confirmed a planet outside the solar system. This research has been published online in Astronomical Journal of the American Astronomical Society by IOP (Institute of Physics) publishing.
The researchers while doing the study have confirmed that the latest planet was first spotted and listed as a candidate planet by Kepler 2. But it was these Indian scientists who have confirmed that it was a planet rather than citing it as any astronomical object. It took them a year and a half at PRL’s Gurushikhar Observatory in Mount Abu understanding the changes in light coming from the newly discovered planet and its mass. “We report here strong evidence for a sub-Saturn around EPIC 211945201 and confirm its planetary nature,” wrote the scientists in the journal. The mass of the planet was measured using the indigenously designed, “PRL Advance Radial-velocity Abu-sky Search” (PARAS) spectrograph integrated with 1.2m Telescope.
PARAS is the first of its kind spectrograph in the whole Asia, that can measure the mass of a planet revolving around a star. Very few spectrographs exist around the world that can do such accurate measurements. So far, only 23 planetary systems including this recent discovery are known with Earth masses between 10 and 70 and size of 4 to 8 Earth radii. The Epic planet has been seen revolving round the star once in every 19.5 days, approximately. It has a high surface temperature of around 600°Celsius which is quite reasonable, given its proximity to the host star.