Astronomers have discovered a «cousin» of the Earth, a year which lasts a week

© ESO/M. Complet the artist has imagined the planet Ross 128b in the constellation VirgoAstronomers have discovered a «cousin» of the Earth, a year which lasts a week© ESO/M. Kornmesser

. Astronomers discovered in the constellation Virgo unusual planet, located in the Central part of the «zone of life» and is similar in its climate to Earth, a year which lasts only ten days, according to a paper published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

«This discovery is the fruit of more than ten years of observations of stars using the HARPS spectrograph, as well as the latest techniques of data analysis and «remove» noise from them. Only HARPS managed to achieve such accuracy of observation and to stay on Olympus astronomy for 15 years,» said Nicola Astudillo-DEFRA (Nicola Astudillo-Defru) at the University of Geneva (Switzerland).

Over the past year, scientists have found several planets that claim if not for the title of «twin Earth», her «sisters» or «cousins». First found in nearest star, Proxima Centauri, and the other three are in the star system of TRAPPIST-1 in the constellation of Aquarius, which inhabits seven earth-like planets.

They share the fact that they have small size, are in the «zone of life» – in orbit where water can exist in liquid form, and revolve around red dwarfs. The last point is both a plus and a minus – red dwarfs live very long, leaving much time for life.

On the other hand, many of them have a very restless nature in his youth, produce a lot of UV radiation and generate a large number of flares that could destroy the atmospheres of planets. Today scientists believe, part of the planets in the system TRAPPIST-1 could turn into a hellish «lava worlds» under the influence of magnetic fields of their stars, and flares on its surface can «blow» the whole atmosphere of these planets.

Astudillo-DEFRA found the first example of potential earth-like planets have red dwarf with a fairly mild climate and a «quiet» star, watching the different luminaries in the constellation of Virgo with the spectrometer HARPS, installed at the 2.2-meter telescope at the Observatory of La Silla in Chile.

HARPS, as the scientists explain, uses the fact that all the planets, despite their small mass compared to a star exert a gravitational effect on the star, causing the star will periodically move towards or away from us. This will make small shifts in the spectrum of its radiation, the strength of which it is possible to estimate the mass of the planet.

As a rule, the smaller the planet the farther it is from the star, the weaker are these «swing» spectrum and the harder they are to detect. Previously, scientists believed that it is in principle allows the use of HARPS and its analogues for the search for small aksamitov the size of the Earth, but new methods of «clean» signal, appeared in the last two years, has shown that it is not.

Analyzing archives of observations, the European astronomers have found interesting fluctuations in the spectrum of the star Ross 128 is a red dwarf with a tenth of the size of the Sun located in the constellation Virgo at a distance of only 11 light years from Earth. Re-observation of the sun showed that this red dwarf rotates fairly small planet located in the center of the «zone of life».

This planet is in many respects similar to the Earth – its mass is about 1.3 times higher than that of our world, and it receives approximately 1.4 times more light than the Earth. Given the rather large age Ross 128 is approximately 5 billion years – this means that it is dominated by a mild climate more favorable for origin of life than the conditions in the system of TRAPPIST-1 and Proxima Centauri b.

Year on this planet, because of the extremely small distance between her and a red dwarf lasts a little more earth weeks, about 9.9 days. How will this affect its habitability, planetary scientists do not yet know, but given the small distance between the Earth and Ross 128b, and the fact that it is gradually moving closer to the Sun, it will be easy to know in the future, when will be launched the TESS telescope, «James Webb» and a new generation of ground-based observatories.