New York: Scientists, including one of Indian-origin, have predicted that an Earth-like planet may be lurking in a star system just 16 light years away.
The team investigated the star system Gliese 832 for additional exoplanets residing between the two currently known alien worlds in this system.
Their computations revealed that an additional Earth-like planet with a dynamically stable configuration may be residing at a distance ranging from 0.25 to 2.0 astronomical unit (AU) from the star, according to a study published in The Astrophysical Journal.
“According to our calculations, this hypothetical alien world would probably have a mass between 1 to 15 Earth’s masses,” said study lead author Suman Satyal from University of Texas at Arlington in the US.
“This is an important breakthrough demonstrating the possible existence of a potential new planet orbiting a star close to our own,” University of Texas at Arlington Physics Chair Alexander Weiss said.
Gliese 832 is a red dwarf and has just under half the mass and radius of our Sun.
The star is orbited by a giant Jupiter-like exoplanet designated Gliese 832b and by a super-Earth planet Gliese 832c.
The gas giant with 0.64 Jupiter masses is orbiting the star at a distance of 3.53 AU, while the other planet is potentially a rocky world, around five times more massive than the Earth, residing very close its host star – about 0.16 AU.
For this research, the team analysed the simulated data with an injected Earth-mass planet on this nearby planetary system hoping to find a stable orbital configuration for the planet that may be located in a vast space between the two known planets.
“The existence of this possible planet is supported by long-term orbital stability of the system, orbital dynamics and the synthetic radial velocity signal analysis,” Satyal said.
“At the same time, a significantly large number of radial velocity observations, transit method studies, as well as direct imaging are still needed to confirm the presence of possible new planets in the Gliese 832 system,” Satyal added.