Scientists of a Japanese institute have discovered a red dwarf star solar system consisting of 15 new planets, including one ‘super-Earth’ planet which could be harbouring water in liquid form and has the possibility to be habitable, just like Earth.
Cool stars or red dwarf stars are often the subject of extensive interest and research for planetary formation and evolution of universe. A research team led by Teruyuki Hirano of Tokyo Institute of Technology’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences was studying about one of the brightest red dwarf stars K2-155 and discovered that the star has its own solar system consisting of 15 planets. The K2-155 solar system is located about over 200 light years from Earth and has three transiting super-Earths – of which, the outermost planet named as K2-155d has almost 1.6 times the size of Earth and could be within the host star’s habitable zone.
The researchers have also found that K2-155d planet could potentially have liquid water on its surface based on 3D global climate simulations. These conclusions were based on data from NASA Kepler spacecraft’s second mission, K2, and follow-up observations using ground-based telescopes, including the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii and the Nordic Optical Telescope (NOT) in Spain. However, more precise studies and research will be required to be conducted to confirm whether the super-Earth planet is actually habitable or not. To study about it deeply, interferometry techniques will be used and follow-up observations using ground-based telescopes will require to be made to conclude definitively that K2-155d is habitable for life.
However, what we can extract from generic observations is that the planets orbiting red dwarf stars have remarkably similar characteristics to Earth-like planets, or at least like the planets of our solar system. The hope for finding other world persists and with NASA’s plan to launch Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) in April 2018, Hirano is hopeful that it will help in conducting follow-up studies and determining more data about the super-Earth. TESS is also expected to take human research closer to finding more such planets, and ultimately, some co-existent beings in this universe.