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Discover an exoplanet with more water than Earth

The search for exoplanets is enriched by a new discovery, this time completely unprecedented: an exoplanet with truly unique properties (for the time being).

exoplanet called ‘Nu2 Lupi dIt is located 50 light-years away in the constellation Lupus, around a star called Nu2 Lupi. It is about 2.5 times the size of Earth and about 9 times its mass.

How was Nu2 Lupi discovered

Scientists Who published the study They used measurements with archival data from other observatories and numerical models to describe the density and composition of an exoplanet and its neighbors. They found that the planet has a rocky interior. And much more water than land. However, water is not a liquid. Instead of taking high-pressure ice or high-temperature steam, which makes the planets uninhabitable.

Swiss astronomers had already announced in 2019 the discovery of three exoplanets with masses between Earth and Neptune (17 times that of Earth) that take 12, 28 and 107 days to orbit their parent star.

Jan AlbertProfessor of Astrophysics at the University of Bern and co-author of the study said: “We already knew this for two inner planets, which led us to focus CHEOPS on the star system in the first place. The third planet is so far from the star: no one expected to see its transit!”

It was a turning point. It is the first time an exoplanet with a revolution period of more than 100 days has been seen as it passes a star bright enough to be visible with the naked eye.”

Jan Albert

Because it is a unique discovery

Infographic of the Nu2 Lupi planetary system. Photo: ESA

David EhrenreichThe professor at the University of Geneva and the CHEOPS mission scientist, who co-signed the study, says: “Due to a relatively long period, the amount of stellar radiation reaching an exoplanet is considered moderate compared to many other discovered exoplanets. The less radiation a planet receives, Say its change over time. Therefore, a planet with a long period could have retained more information about its origin.”

So far, few astronomers of these outer planets They found faint stars in orbits. In other words: little of its light reaches the Earth and therefore it is difficult to study. Not this time: Since its bright host star is close enough to us, studying the exoplanet is easier. This makes it a golden target for future studies with no known equivalent.

David Ehrenreich

The team was led by the Universities of Geneva and Bern and members of the PlanetS National Research Competence Centre.