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Exploring the super-Earth in space: the research team finds an "unusual" object

Exploring the super-Earth in space: the research team finds an “unusual” object

  • NSSandra Katie


When evaluating data from the Khufu Space Telescope, a European Space Agency research team discovered a new exoplanet: the so-called super-Earth.

GENEVA/Darmstadt – Just under 50 light-years from our solar system, with a radius 2.5 times the size of Earth and rich in water: seeing the exoplanet “Nu2 Lupi d” is one of the greatest achievements in space research this year. The appearance of the super-Earth on the recordings of the Khufu Space Telescope was a real opportunity to discover it.

The research team led by astrophysicist Laetitia Delrez (University of Liege in Belgium) wanted to focus on two other exoplanets of the star system when the planet suddenly appeared in the records.

Super-Earth is a “paramount” discovery opportunity – researchers discover exoplanets

The planet was a serendipitous discovery and something very special, say the experts who recorded and evaluated the discovery. The planet exhibits rare properties and, according to the European Space Agency (ESA), “cannot be compared to any equivalent discovered so far”.

The research team accidentally discovered a giant land. (icon image)

© Science Photo Library / imago

Delreese, who led the study, explains that transportation systems such as the Nu2 Lupi are “of paramount importance when it comes to understanding how planets form and evolve.” With their help, several planets in the same orbit can be compared in detail.

The European Space Agency finds a super-Earth: “Nu2 Lupi d” an opportunity to discover it in space

The passage of planets through a star – the so-called “transit” – is an excellent way to assess many properties of a planet. This included its atmosphere and size, orbit and nature, the European Space Agency explains in a press release. The orbit of the exoplanet observed by Delrez and her team lasts for 107 days, the mass of the planet is 8.8 times the equivalent value of Earth, and its radius is about 2.5 times greater.

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Seeing the super-Earth is a little sense of science. The European Space Agency, which operates the Khufu telescope, reports that this is the first time an exoplanet has been identified with an orbit of more than 100 days around a star visible with the naked eye. The sun-like star “Nu2 Lupi” with its exoplanets b, c and d is located in the constellation of the Wolf (Wolf). The three exoplanets orbiting the star were first discovered in 2019.

Exoplanet Nu2 Lupi d orbits the star Nu2 Lupi. (artist’s impression)


Super Earth “Nu2 Lupi d”: relatively low radiation and rich in water

“The amount of radiation on planet d is relatively small compared to many other discovered exoplanets,” explains study co-author David Ehrenreich from the University of Geneva: “In our solar system, the planet with its orbit is located between the planets Mercury and Venus.”

In his opinion, seeing the planet is an interesting approach to further research, the planet as a whole is an “unusual object”. While many exoplanets are in star systems that are too dark for detailed investigations using current technical means, Nu2 Lupi provides researchers with excellent conditions for further investigations.

Researchers discover new exoplanets – no habitable planets

Delrez’s team was also able to provide preliminary information about the nature of the planets around Nu2 Lupi: planet b is rocky, and planets c and d are richer in water than Earth. However, the water on the planet is not a liquid, but rather takes the form of highly concentrated ice or hot steam.

  • Khufu examines the exoplanet Nu2 Lupi:
  • Nu2 Lupi b: orbit duration 11.6 days, mostly rocks
  • Nu2 Lupi c: Duration of one orbit 27.6 days, a large amount of water
  • Nu2 Lupi d: orbit duration 107.6 days, large amount of water
  • these: who – which
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Kate Isaacs, a member of the ESA project team, explained that “even if none of these planets are habitable, the diversity of characteristics found makes the investigation very exciting.” Other research questions could include examining how planets evolved over time, or using the Khufu telescope to find rings or moons. (ska)

Researchers from Göttingen are regularly involved in tracking the so-called super-Earths in space.

Rubiklistenbild: © Esa