Madrid, 22 (Europe Press)
The project, funded by Spanish and German funding, uses an instrument built at the Calar Alto Observatory (Almeria) with the aim of finding Earth-like exoplanets (rocky and temperate), with the potential to harbor water on their surface if they are located in the so-called “habitable zone” of their star.
Among the many data released, the one that allowed the discovery of 59 exoplanets, dozens of which are likely to be habitable, stands out. The study was published in the specialized journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.
In the image, all planets detected in the same way as Carmen, but with other instruments, are shown as gray dots. From 2016 to 2020, Carmens discovered and confirmed 6 Jupiter-like planets (more than 50 Earth masses), 10 Neptunes (10 to 50 Earth masses) and 43 Earths and super-Earths. (up to 10 Earth masses). The vertical axis shows the type of star the planets orbit, from the coolest and smallest red dwarfs to the brightest and hottest stars (the Sun will be second from the top). The horizontal axis gives an idea of the distance from the planet to the star, by showing the time taken to complete an orbit. Planets in the habitable zone (indicated by the blue bar) could harbor liquid water on the surface.
CARMENES is the name of the scientific project, but also the name of the instrument with which the observations are made as well as the consortium that was responsible for its design and construction, reports the Astrophysical Institute of Andalusia, one of the scientific institutions leading the research.
The CARMENES instrument is an optical and infrared spectrometer, that is, a device that measures both visible and infrared light from the objects it points at. It was installed in 2015 at the Calar Alto Observatory with the aim of finding terrestrial-type exoplanets in nearby cold stars (the so-called red dwarfs). The light gathered from a particular star (the stellar spectrum) can reveal the presence of exoplanets, because it allows us to measure the small motions of the star caused by the gravity of the planets orbiting it.
The high-resolution spectra obtained with CARMEN are used to determine the star’s velocity to an accuracy of one meter per second, which is a technical challenge of the first order. This makes it possible to find small planets around low-mass stars.
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