Icy 'Tremendous-Earth' Exoplanet Noticed Round Close by Barnard's Star

Bone-crushingly cold Super Earth discovered orbiting nearby star

What you need to know about the new 'Super Earth'

The planet, Barnard's Star b, is the second-closest exoplanet (a planet outside of our solar system) to Earth, per USA Today.

Professor Steven Vogt of UC Santa Cruz said, 'Barnard's star is among the nearby red dwarfs that represents an ideal target to search for exoplanets that could someday actually be reached by future interstellar spacecraft.

The team's results appear online in the November 14, 2018 issue of the journal Nature.

The team worked with the European Southern Observatory using astronomical instruments so accurate they can detect changes in a star's velocity as small as 3.5 kilometres per hour - a gentle walking pace.

Ribas said that although stargazers could predict its size and orbit with relative accuracy using the Doppler effect, any attempt at this stage to find out what the new planet looked like would be "guesswork".

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"However, we'll continue to observe this fast-moving star to exclude possible, but improbable, natural variations of the stellar brightness which could masquerade as a planet", added Ribas, the lead author of a new study announcing the detection of Barnard's Star b. It is estimated that for this reason the average temperature on its surface is minus 150 to 170 degrees Celsius, so if the planet has water it will be in the form of ice rather than wet. Barnard's Star provides the frigid planet only 2 percent of the energy that the sun provides Earth.

"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". Smaller and older than our Sun, it is among the least active red dwarfs known. Red dwarf, which was nearest to the Sun is a single star (Proxima Centauri is closer, but it is part of a triple system) opened in the early twentieth century the American astronomer Edward Barnard.

It is believed to orbit Barnard's Star every 233 days. The researchers used the radial velocity method during the observations that led to the discovery of Barnard's star b.

"The additional data from CARMENES strongly confirmed the signal, and removed any lingering doubt as to the reality of this planet", Vogt said.

"It's important because it's really our next door neighbour and we like to meet our neighbours in general", Ignasi Ribas, from the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia and Spain's Institute of Space Sciences, told AFP.

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