Yet another planet was discovered: twiced the mass of Jupiter and about 100 light years from our tiny Earth. It appears to be very similar to the planets that are found in our own solar system, so you can imagine how the scientific community reacted when this new celestial body was discovered.
The study was published in the latest issue of the academic journal Science and it illustrates how astronomers put the Planet Imager found at Gemini Observatory to good work. The planet was studied in detail and it revealed very interesting facts about as to how similar it is to the planets revolving around our own sun.
The planet’s name is 51 Eridani b and the distance between her and her sun is approximately 13 times the distance in between Earth and sun. It is also the distance in between Saturn and Uranus. This system is not exactly far from Earth as it is located 100 light years away.
The Gemini discovered that there is an incredible amount of methane in this planet’s atmosphere.
Chris Davis, the US National Science Foundation Astronomy Division program officer, mentioned that this result is “superb” and demonstrates that the GPI has remarkable features which will be used in the future. In short, the GPI shows great promise.
“The exoplanet surveys now possible with Gemini will undoubtedly lead to a far better understanding of the numbers of gas giants orbiting neighboring stars, the characteristics of their atmospheres, and how giant planets like Jupiter and Saturn are formed.”
But the discovery of this planet is only a small part of the entire plan the GPI was designed for. The team’s end-game is to detect new planets which they can scan and analyze with the GPI, creating the GPI Exoplanet Survey (GPIES).
The scientists will set out to explore around 600 stars which might host planetary systems and see how much they can find. As of now, the number of stars they have checked has amounted to almost a hundred.
James Graham, a project scientists for GPI and UC Berkeley professor, expressed his excitement by saying that this sort of discovery was exactly what everybody was thinking about when they were designing the GPI.
Still, there is a long way to go until all the 600 stars will be explored, and maybe further results could lead to the encouragement to go beyond 600. We just have to wait and see if other planets will be discovered. And who knows, maybe we will find another Earth-like planet very soon.
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