The newly discovered exoplanet, named Ross 508 b, orbits its parent star in an elliptical orbit. The ‘super-Earth’, which is about four times the mass of Earth, was discovered using infrared technology. The planet itself is very close to its star.
However, its orbit passes through the star’s “habitable zone” each time. This means that there may be key ingredients for life surviving in the atmosphere. Scientists are eager to learn more about Ross 508 b as it approaches the star and skims through the star’s habitable zone. They were also curious to see if the surface temperatures around low-mass stars like red dwarfs could allow liquid water to exist.
The discovery of liquid water on a planet, one of the key ingredients for life, would be huge news for astronomers.
Another impressive aspect of this discovery is that it is the first planet to be discovered using this new infrared method. Compared to other stars, red dwarfs are very cold. Their temperature is about 2000 to 3500 Kelvin.
These relatively low temperatures dim the visible light of stars, making them harder to spot. Using infrared light allowed scientists to spot a “super-Earth” orbiting the red dwarf star.
Scientists developed this method because red dwarfs are so common in the region surrounding our solar system. As such, they are some of the best places to look for signs of potential life outside our galaxy. However, finding them has to be easier, which is why they developed IRD-SSP. And so far, this first discovery appears to be paying off pretty well.