Astronomers Discover “Pi Earth” Exoplanet That Takes 3.14 Days To Orbit Its Star

By: | September 25th, 2020

Image courtesy: NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle, Christine Daniloff, MIT

A team of scientists at MIT has found an alien world that orbits its host star every 3.14 Earth days. The planet is revolving around its star at a blistering 81 kilometers per second or about 181,000 miles per hour.

MIT researchers discovered this planet by analyzing 2017 data from NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope’s K2 mission. But earlier this year, researchers were able to confirm the signal using SPECULOOS (a network of ground-based telescopes).

Here are some of its features:

  • Scientists dubbed this planet as ‘K2-315b’.
  • The radius of K2-315b is 0.95 that of Earth’s, so it’s very nearly the same size.
  • ‘K2-315b’ completes its full rotation in 3.14 Earth days that is why scientists have nicknamed it ‘π Earth’.
  • ‘π Earth’ movement around its star has been described as ‘like clockwork’. Its star is about one-fifth the size of the sun.
  • Because this planet orbits so quickly, it will be in very close proximity to the star. So the scientists foresee the planet might be very hot and wouldn’t be able to be inhabited by aliens.

Prajwal Niraula, MIT graduate student and lead author of the paper, said, “This would be too hot to be habitable in the common understanding of the phrase.”
He added, “There will be more interesting planets in the future, just in time for JWST, a telescope designed to probe the atmosphere of these alien worlds,” “With better algorithms, hopefully one day, we can look for smaller planets, even as small as Mars.”

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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