Earth-like planets just 12.5 light yrs away and orbiting red dwarf

Scientists have discovered two new Earth-like planets around one of the closest stars within our galactic neighborhood. The planets are located only 12.5 light-years away orbiting the Teegarden star a red dwarf in the direction of the constellation of Aries. Its surface temperature is 2,700 degrees Celsius, and its mass is only one-tenth that of the Sun. Even though it is so near, its faintness impeded its discovery until 2003.

Mathias Zechmeister, a researcher at the University of Gottingen in Germany said, we have been observing this star for three years to look for periodic variations in its velocity.

The observations showed that two planets are orbiting it, both of them similar to the planets in the inner part of the Solar System. They are just a little bigger than the Earth and are situated in the 'habitable zone' where water can exist as a liquid, according to researchers.

Stefan Dreizler, a researcher at the University of Gottingen said, it is possible that the two planets are part of a larger system.

Photometric campaigns on this star have been carried out with the Carlos Sanchez Telescope at the Teide Observatory in Spain, and with the network of telescopes of the Las Cumbres Observatory, among others. These studies demonstrate that the signals of the two planets cannot be due to the activity of the star, even though not detect the transits of the two new planets.

For the transit method to be viable, the planets must pass across the face of the stellar disc and block some of the light from the star during a short time, which means that it must lie on a line joining the Sun and the Earth. The type of star to which the Teegarden star belongs consists of the smallest to which researchers can measure the masses of their planets with current technology.

This lucky alignment occurs for only a small fraction of planetary systems, researchers said.

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