Astronomers Discover Earth-Sized Exoplanet Just 72 Light Years Away

An international team of astronomers has made a groundbreaking discovery of K2-415b, an Earth-sized exoplanet just 72 light years away. The exoplanet circles an M dwarf star and has many similarities to Earth, including a similar size. However, it has a much higher mass and circles its host star so closely that its orbit takes just four days. Scientists Discover Another Habitable Exoplanet in Our Galaxy

The team, led by Teruyuki Hirano of the Astrobiology Center in Japan, confirmed the finding by analyzing data from the Kepler and TESS telescopes. They believe K2-415b will be a valuable target for further research, including radial velocity monitoring and transit spectroscopy.

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Though K2-415b’s close orbit around its host star puts it too close to be considered habitable, the researchers note that it appears to have an atmosphere, making it a valuable subject of study. The team also believes that there may be other planets orbiting the host star, adding further incentive for research efforts to continue.

“Small planets around M dwarfs are a good laboratory to explore the atmospheric diversity of rocky planets and the conditions at which a habitable terrestrial planet can exist,” says Hirano. “Being one of the lowest mass stars known to host an Earth-sized transiting planet, K2-415 will be an interesting target for further follow-up observations.”

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This discovery is a major step in the ongoing search for exoplanets that could potentially support life. As the team notes, further study of K2-415b and its surrounding star system could provide valuable insights into the diversity of planetary atmospheres and the conditions necessary for habitability.

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