Science & Space
Speculoos-2c is the second potentially “habitable” planet discovered.
An international team of scientists – led by Laetitia Delrez, astrophysicist at the University of Liège (ULiège) – has just announced the identification of two “super-Earth” type planets. One of them turns out to be potentially habitable, relays the Liège university on Wednesday morning by means of a press release.
A first planet, responding to the sweet name of LP 890-9b (or TOI-4306b), the innermost of the system, was initially identified by NASA’s Tess (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) space mission, dedicated to the search for exoplanets orbiting nearby stars. This planet, which is about 30% larger than Earth, completes an orbit around its star in just 2.7 days.
The ULiège researchers used their ground-based Speculoos telescopes (Search for habitable Planets EClipsing ULtra-cOOl Stars) to confirm and characterize this planet, and also probe the system in depth in search of other planets that could have been “missed”. by Tess. “The observations of LP 890-9 obtained by Speculoos proved fruitful since they not only helped to confirm the first planet, but also made it possible to detect a second, previously unknown one”rejoices the university.
A second habitable planet
This second planet, LP 890-9c (renamed Speculoos-2c by ULiège researchers), is similar in size to the first (about 40% larger than Earth) but has a longer orbital period of about 8 ,5 days. However, this orbital period places the planet in the so-called “habitable” zone around its star. “Although this planet is very close to its star, at a distance about 10 times less than that of Mercury around our Sun, the amount of stellar radiation it receives remains small, and could allow the presence of liquid water at surface of the planet, provided it has a sufficient atmosphere.explains Francisco J. Pozuelos, researcher at the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia and one of the main co-authors of the article.
Researchers will now set about unraveling the mysteries of this planet. “The discovery of LP 890-9c offers a unique opportunity to be able to better understand and constrain the conditions of habitability around the smallest and coldest stars in our solar neighborhood”concludes Laetitia Delrez, who headed the team of scientists.
This work was published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.