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Scientists Discover a ‘One in a Million’ Super-Earth Near the Centre of the Galaxy

A ‘year’ here lasts almost twice as long as Earth.
Photo for representational purposes only via Pexels

The world is now one step closer to an Interstellar-esque expedition—astronomers have discovered a new alien planet with the same size and mass as earth. Termed as Super-Earth, the astronomers at the University of Canterbury (UC) have discovered a new “one in a million” planet. Located towards the centre of the galaxy, this planet named OGLE-2018-BLG-0677 is one of just a few planets similar to Earth that have been discovered.


The planet’s mass lies somewhere between Earth and Neptune, and it orbits at a location between Venus and Earth from its parent star. NASA describes super-Earths as "up to 10 times more massive than Earth," but says they may vary in composition from water worlds to icy planets to ones made mainly of gas. Due to the newly discovered planet's host star having a smaller mass than our Sun, the planet would have a ‘year’ of approximately 617 days, noted the researchers in the study published in The Astronomical Journal. The planet was first observed in 2018 using a telescope in Chile, and later through three identical telescopes in Chile, Australia, and South Africa.

The planet was discovered using a technology called microlensing, with Dr Herrera Martin—the paper’s lead author—describing the discovery as incredibly rare. “The microlensing effect is rare, with only about one in a million stars in the galaxy being affected at any given time. Furthermore, this type of observation does not repeat, and the probabilities of catching a planet at the same time are extremely low,” said Martin. “We used telescopes distributed around the world to measure the light-bending effect.”

Lead researchers in the discovery, astronomers Dr Antonio Herrera Martin and Associate Professor Michael Albrow, both from UC’s School of Physical and Chemical Sciences in the College of Science, are part of an international team of astronomers who collaborated on the Super-Earth research. In January, another super-earth, Proxima c, orbiting the star closest to our sun, was also discovered by scientists.

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