The finding was possible thanks to one of the largest international campaigns for observation in history, in which telescopes around the world took nearly 800 measurements, "a huge amount of information collected over 20 years," he explained. Efe Ignasi Ribas, Institute for the Study of the Universe of Catalonia (IEEC-CSIC) and who led international cooperation.
"All this data has enabled us to characterize a planetarium orbiting Barnard," the second system that is closest to us, and in addition, "we do not rule out that there may be more planets," says the researcher.
But how is this system? The newly discovered planet depends on the star of Barnard, the red dwarf between 7,000 and 10,000 million years, "nearly twice as old as the Sun", the relatively inactive and fastest night sky.
Barnard b, baptized in honor of his housekeeper, takes about 233 days to starve his star and, although relatively close to it (at a distance of 40% of Tierra del Sol), it's a cool world and a darkness that could be about -170 degrees Celsius.
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"It is an iceberg because it receives very little energy from its star: only 2% of what the Earth receives from the Sun" and is located near the so-called "ice line" orbital zone around the star in that volatile compounds such as water can condense into solid ice.
It is therefore "very unlikely" that Barnard has liquid water on the surface, but can not be ruled out in the underground, explains Ribas.
In addition, compared to Prokima b, which is considered the planet with the best chance of saving lives outside the Solar System, it seems unlikely that this super-Earth can contain any form of life, but "life sometimes finds survival skills," warns a Spanish physicist.
The finding was possible thanks to Doppler's technique, one of many methods that astronomers planned to discover planets that can not be observed directly.
Technique searches for planets from the effects it causes on its star, because when a planet circulates around a star, the gravitational move causes the star to move.
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"And according to physics, when the light source approaches the observer, its spectrum shifts slightly towards the blue and its wavelength is shorter, and when it moves, it moves to red, for longer wavelengths. Therefore, when we see the vibrating star (approaches and leaves), it can be concluded that there is a planet in orbit, "Ribas said.
Findings of exoplanets, part of the Red Spot and CARMENES projects dedicated to the search for planets near the Solar System, were possible thanks to the high precision of the telescope measurement from around the world.
Among them are well-known planetary hunter HARPS and UVES spectrograph, both European Southern Observatory (ESO).
"HARPS played a key role in this project, combining the archival data of other teams with new and overlapping Barnard stars from different objects," explains Guillem Anglada Escude of the University of Kueen Mari in London.
"The combination of instruments was crucial for the ability to back up our results," says a Spanish astronomer, who, in addition, led the discovery of Prokimi b a couple of years ago.
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And, HARPS, which measures the velocity of a star caused by an exoplanet that orbits, is capable of detecting variations of velocity as high as 3.5 km / h (the rate similar to that used when walking).
The paper used observations from seven different instruments that took over 771 measures over the past 20 years, a "huge" amount of information, Ribas stresses.
"The discovery is a significant advance in the search for exoplanets around our star neighbors, hoping to finally find one who has good living conditions," concludes researcher at the Institute of Astrophysics Andalusia and the co-author of the papers. , Kristina Rodriguez-Lopez.
In this work they cooperated in the research of scientists from Spain, Chile, China, France, Germany, Israel, Poland, Switzerland, the United States and the United Kingdom.