One of the smallest “featherweight” planets known to date outside of the Solar System has been discovered. The mass of the celestial body orbiting the red dwarf is 55 percent of Earth, lasting less than 8 hours a day.
On an exoplanet called GJ 367 b that's orbiting a star 31 light-years away from our sun, a year only lasts for about eight hours. https://t.co/py5KLDRuof
— CNN International (@cnni) December 3, 2021
Planet GJ 367 b is a light-weight rock planet with a diameter of 72 percent of Earth’s diameter. Scientists say it is one of the smallest of the nearly five thousand exoplanets known today.
The discovery was made by an international research team under the direction of the Planetary Research Institute of the German Space Research Center (DLR). According to Szilárd Csizmadia, a researcher at the institute, because of its high density, it can be assumed that the planet has an inner core of iron. They estimate that 86 percent of the planet could be iron.
The GJ 367 is 31 light-years from Earth, and in 7.7 hours it orbits its mother star, the red dwarf GJ 367, which is about half the size of the Sun, and is much cooler and less bright.
The planet seems to bear more resemblance to Mercury. It is one of the smaller rock planets on Earth, and its discovery could take it one step closer to finding a “ second Earth, ” says Kristine Lam, a senior DLR expert.
However, the planet can by no means be a second Earth, as it is exposed to a very large amount of radiation, 500 times stronger than Earth, explained Bootsmadia. The surface temperature of the GJ 367 b on the side that is constantly facing its star can reach 1500 degrees Celsius – at this temperature all rocks and metals melt.
Scientists have reported their findings in the scientific journal Science. The discovery of exoplanets is of paramount importance to researchers because life is conceivable on these. The method used to discover GJ 367 b can help identify suitable candidates.
About a quarter of a century after the discovery of the first exoplanet, scientists are able to determine the characteristics of celestial bodies more and more accurately, gaining more information about their different versions.
“ Unlike gas giants, rocky worlds like Earth have much more moderate temperatures and contain important ingredients such as liquid water and oxygen. Although not all rock planets are livable, searching for smaller types of celestial bodies can help you understand how they formed, what makes a planet livable, and help determine if the Solar System is unique, ”Lam explained.