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In the quest for spotting new celestial bodies, scientists have recently discovered an extraordinary planet in the centre of the galaxy. How cool is that! By Upasana Singh

Astronomers from New Zealand’s University of Canterbury (UC) have discovered a Super-Earth planet lying towards the center of the galaxy called the Galactic Bulge. The planet is one of the handful of extra-solar planets that have been detected with both size and orbits similar to that of the Earth. The lead researcher of the team of international astronomers, Dr Herrera Martin has defined the discovery as “incredibly rare”.

 

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Using the solar system to find more information about the Super-Earth, researchers have noted that the host star around which the planet revolves is about 10 per cent of the mass of our Sun. With a host star that is reportedly smaller, the planet’s years are longer— approximately 617 days instead of 365 days like that of our mother planet. Moreover, the Super-Earth’s planet mass is somewhere between that of Neptune and Earth and its orbiting zone falls roughly between Venus and Earth. Dubbed as K2-18b, the planet is around 2.6 times the radius of Earth and 124 light-years away. The results of the research have been published in The Astronomical Journal.

The gravitational microlensing technique was used to discover the planet. The effect of this technique is rare with extremely low probabilities of catching a planet. Using a telescope in Chile, the microlensing event was first observed in 2018 by the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE).

 

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According to American space agency NASA, all the planets in our solar system revolve around the Sun. But there are planets that orbit around other stars called extrasolar planets or exoplanets. It is difficult to see them directly with telescopes as they are hidden by the bright glare of the stars they orbit.

Super-Earths can be up to 10 times more massive than Earth and they are quite common in our galaxy. This discovery is definitely one in a million that surprise us about the many wonders of our universe.

Related: Scientists Discover Really Big Bubbles In The Centre Of Milky Way