Two planets orbiting Kapteyn’s Star discovered
Two strange planets orbiting an ancient star right in our stellar backyard, has been discovered, and the most interesting part, one of the planet, named Kapteyn b is at the right distance to potentially sustain liquid water. Yes! The new planet can be suitable for life!
The other one, can be termed a super Earth, as it’s even bigger than the earth, is probably too cold to sustain liquid water. And the astronomers believe there might be more planets in the system as well!
An international team of astronomers, including five Carnegie scientists – Pamela Arriagada, Paul Butler, Steve Shectman, Jeff Crane, and Ian Thompson, have been studying about the second fastest-moving star in the sky – Kapteyn’s Star, which is around 13 light years away from Earth. Kapteyn’s Star is at present the 25th closest star to our planet, and that will change over time like it has before.
“The star is very quiet, and more detailed observations may reveal more planets,” said Guillem Anglada Escude of Queen Mary University of London. “Most likely they will be even smaller…. True Earth-like candidates are possible in the system.”
Anglada Escude added “We were surprised to find planets orbiting Kapteyn’s star. Previous data showed some irregular motion so we were looking for very short period planets when the new signals showed up loud and clear.”
Kapteyn b, the planet that might support water, is at least 5 times the Earth’s mass and takes 48 days to complete its orbit around its star. In case of Kapteyn C, the super-Earth planet, it is more massive in comparison and is predicted to be too cold for life, with a year reported to last for 121 days.
Anglada Escude said that he and his team were interested in finding planets orbiting around nearby stars for two reasons, “Scientifically speaking, these are the easiest ones to try to characterize further. Beyond that my personal motivation is exploration. The same way we are exploring the solar system, we might be able to explore these worlds one day.”