An “EPIC” Discovery by Indian PRL Scientists

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A team of scientists from the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad have made a sensational achievement by spotting for the first time a distant planet six times bigger than Earth and revolving around a Sun-like star about 600 light years away.

Both the planet and the star have been named EPIC.Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has announced that “With this discovery, India has joined a handful of countries which have discovered planets around stars”.ISRO is an arm of the Department of Space who supports the PRL.

The PRL conducts thorough researches in areas of physical sciences including astronomy and space.

Spectrograph :

  • A Spectrograph is a device used to measure the mass of a planet going around a star.
  • Proudly this phenomenal discovery was made using a PRL-designed spectrograph, PARAS, to measure and confirm the mass of the new planet.
  • EPIC 211945201b (or K2-236b) is the name given to the planet by the discovery team led by PRL’s Abhijit Chakraborty. The host star is named EPIC 211945201 or K2-236.
  • The observation made by the scientists of this planet and its star was spanned over a period of 420 days or about 1.5 years.

EPIC :

  • It has a high surface temperature of around 600°C so it not habitable.
  • The planet is smaller in size than Saturn and bigger than Neptune.
  • It has a mass of about 27 times that of Earth.
  • It has a radius that is 6 times that of Earth.
  • It is estimated that over 60% of its mass could be made up of heavy elements like ice, silicates and iron.