Scientists have found an exoplanet in orbit round Barnard's star. Barnard's Star is the fourth nearest star to Earth. It is the nearest solo star, the nearer stars are ones that make up Alpha Centauri multi-star system. Amongst that group of star is Proxima Centauri which is the nearest star to our solar system and also has an exoplanet in orbit
Barnard's Star is a solo star, it does not orbit or interact with any other stars. Barnard's Star is a small red dwarf star, much like Proxima and you won't be able to see it unaided. It is very much like Proxima. Proxima is believed to flame its planet which therefore means that life couldn't exists on its surface so until proven otherwise, Barnards Star could possibly be the closest planet to support life albeit microbial life forms.
The planet in orbit is a Super-Earth meaning it is bigger than our own Earth. It is about 2.3 times the size of Earth and orbits its star in 233 days.
The discovery increases the likelihood that we could one day discovering life elsewhere. The closer the exoplanet is, the more we can learn about the planet and ultimately discover if life exists on the planet by discovering its atmospheric composition.
The discovery was made by a team of researchers from Queen Mary University in London, England and the Institut d’Estudis Espacials de Catalunya, and the Institute of Space Sciences in Spain, The planet was discovered using a technique referred to as the Radial Velocity method. That method detects slight wobbles in the star caused by the planet orbiting. Even though a planet can be very small compared to its star, it can still pull on the star slightly.
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