NASA has discovered a new Super Earth that’s four times the mass of our planet and located 37 light years from us. Ross 508b “skims in and out of its star’s habitable zone" as per NASA and a year there takes just 10.8 days. The Super Earth orbits an M-type star, just like our Earth orbits the Sun. The M-type star is the most common of its kind. It’s much redder, cooler and dimmer than our Sun.
The Ross 508b exoplanet might be able to retain water on its surface. This will make it crucial for future observations regarding the possibility of life on planets that orbit low-mass M dwarf stars like the one that it orbits.
Red dwarf stars are abundant in the vicinity of our solar system and form three-quarters of the stars in our galaxy. As such, NASA finds them excellent targets to seek out exoplanets in our cosmic neighbourhood.
NASA’s exoplanetary encyclopedia lists 5069 confirmed discoveries, 8833 candidates and 3797 planetary systems.
In 2020, another such interesting Super Earth was discovered. The University of Canterbury astronomers came across a previously undiscovered planet that is among the handful to have similar size and mass as Earth. It has a host star which is about 10% the mass of the Sun. The Super Earth planet has a mass somewhere between that of Earth and Neptune and would orbit at a location between Venus and Earth from the parent star. It has a smaller host star, which means years on the Super Earth are longer—one year is approximately 617 days long.
Dr Herrera Martin, the paper’s lead author, described the planet-finding discovery as incredibly rare. “To have an idea of the rarity of the detection, the time it took to observe the magnification due to the host star was approximately five days, while the planet was detected only during a small five-hour distortion. After confirming this was indeed caused by another ‘body’ different from the star, and not an instrumental error, we proceeded to obtain the characteristics of the star-planet system," he said.