An "EPIC" Discovery by Indian PRL Scientists

Published on June 14, 2018
A team of scientists from the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad have made a sensational achievement by spotting for the first time a distant planet six times bigger than Earth and revolving around a Sun-like star about 600 light years away.
An "EPIC" discovery by Indian PRL Scientists
  • Both the planet and the star have been named EPIC.
  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has announced that "With this discovery, India has joined a handful of countries which have discovered planets around stars".
  • ISRO is an arm of the Department of Space who supports the PRL.
  • The PRL conducts thorough researches in areas of physical sciences including astronomy and space.

A Spectrograph

  • A Spectrograph is a device used to measure the mass of a planet going around a star.
  • Proudly this phenomenal discovery was made using a PRL-designed spectrograph, PARAS, to measure and confirm the mass of the new planet.
  • EPIC 211945201b (or K2-236b) is the name given to the planet by the discovery team led by PRL's Abhijit Chakraborty. The host star is named EPIC 211945201 or K2-236.
  • The observation made by the scientists of this planet and its star was spanned over a period of 420 days or about 1.5 years.
  • The mass of the planet was measured by using the indigenously designed PRL Advance Radial-velocity Abu-sky Search or PARAS spectrograph integrated with the 1.2-metre telescope located at PRL’s Gurushikhar Observatory in Mount Abu, Rajasthan.
  • Some facts about EPIC:
    • It has a high surface temperature of around 600°C so it not habitable.
    • The planet is smaller in size than Saturn and bigger than Neptune.
    • It has a mass of about 27 times that of Earth.
    • It has a radius that is 6 times that of Earth.
    • It is estimated that over 60% of its mass could be made up of heavy elements like ice, silicates and iron.

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