NASA’s planet hunter spacecraft Kepler discovers ‘Super-Earth’

National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft has discovered  a exoplanet i.e. ‘super-Earth’ located 180 light-years from Earth as part of its new Kepler 2 (K2) mission.

The discovered ‘super-Earth’ is dubbed as HIP 116454b.

Key facts of discovery

  • The discovery was confirmed after the measurements were taken by the HARPS-North spectrograph of the Telescopio Nazionale Galileo in the Canary Islands.
  • HIP 116454b is 2.5 times the diameter of the Earth and follows a close, nine-day orbit around a star.
  • It weighs almost 12 times as much as Earth which makes it a super-Earth, a class of planets that does not exist in our solar system.
  • It is 180 light years away from the Earth, toward the constellation Pisces.

About NASA’s Kepler 2 (K2) mission 

K2 mission officially began in May 2014.  This space craft hunts for planets that transit or cross in front of their host stars.

It has onboard camera that detects planets by looking for transits when a distant star dims slightly as a planet crosses in front of it

Since the mission K2 has started, the spacecraft has observed more than 35,000 stars and collected data on star clusters, dense star-forming regions, and several planetary objects within our own solar system.

Scientist and astronomers by using K2’s size measurements and ground-based mass measurements can calculate density of a planet in order to determine whether it is likely a rocky, watery or gaseous world.

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Categories: India Current Affairs 2017

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