Super Earth orbiting nearby star discovered after decades

Barnard's star b's surface

This artist’s impression shows the frigid surface of Barnard’s star

"We found a lot of systematic errors from several of the instruments that were producing "ghost signals". Proxima b is 4.2 light-years from Earth is at least 30 percent more massive than Earth. Now, an global team led by researchers from the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) has found a cold Super-Earth orbiting around the Barnard´s star, the second closest star system to Earth. The smaller stars tend to send out powerful solar flares and it's thought that flares from Proxima Centauri might regularly sterilize the surface of Proxima b. "The stars are known to show activity cycles, so this might be a cycle of stellar activity [rather than a planet]". It moves so rapidly against the background stars that it would cross the diameter of the full Moon in a little over 100 years. This means we can begin to put our own solar system in context, and draw informed conclusions about just how special the Earth is.

"Barnard's star is an infamous object among astronomers and exoplanet scientists, as it was one of the first stars where planets were initially claimed but later proven to be incorrect".

But Barnard's Star has one! In the 1960s, the Dutch astronomer Peter van de Kamp, working in the USA, published his evidence for a planetary companion, based on perturbations in the motion of the star. Where his observations showed a wobbling star, theirs showed no such wobble - just a linear motion through space.

"With the radial velocity method, precision spectrometers are used to measure the Doppler effect". Similarly, starlight is shifted towards shorter, bluer, wavelengths when the star moves towards Earth. But unless you observe a star regularly, there's a chance you won't happen to be looking at critical points in the planet's orbit. Astronomers are now confident no planet larger than ten Earth masses exists in the system.

The new discovery of a single, much smaller planet orbiting Barnard's Star is based on a different observational technique called radial velocity. This implies these kinds of planets are very common. This makes Barnard's Star b a prime candidate for us to use powerful spectroscopic techniques to, one day, peer into its atmosphere (if it has one) and understand what it's really made of.

The planet is about the same orbital distance from its star as Mercury is from our sun, making a full pass around the star every 233 days. Together, they are scanning the night sky for planets orbiting nearby dim red dwarf stars.

That's what gives the length of the planet's year. Grains of dust (and ice) collide slowly, growing ever larger worlds. Modeling has suggested that the location of the snow line may be the most efficient location to form a planet, which might then migrate elsewhere in the exosolar system in response to its interactions with the disk.

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Loacting Barnard's Star candidate planet.

Now, an worldwide team of astronomers has managed to discover a possible planet, known as a super-Earth, orbiting the star.

There are a few ways the planet's existence could be verified.

The fastest spacecraft humans have invented is the Parker Solar Probe, launched this year, that can travel as fast as 430,000 miles per hour.

Graphic representation of the relative distances to the nearest stars from the sun.

Ribas, who is the director of the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia and a research at Spain's Institute of Space Sciences, noted that there have been many previous searches for planets around Barnard's Star, and even announcements of discoveries.

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