ISRO Makes an EPIC Discovery

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The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has announced that they have discovered a new planet rotating around a star in a different solar system. This discovery made by the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in Ahmedabad puts in India in elite company as one of the few nations to have found such a celestial body orbiting a sun.

PRL’s Abhijit Chakraborty and his team decided to name this new star EPIC 211945201. It is also known as K2-236. In a similar vein, Dr. Chakraborty’s team has called the planet EPIC 211945201b or K2-236b. This planet is six times the size of Earth, with about 27 times the mass. Over 60% of the planet is thought to be made of heavy elements like ice, silicates, and iron.

PRL is known in the Indian space community as the country’s cradle of space sciences. Speaking to The Hindu, Jayant Murthy of Indian Institute of Astrophysics in Bangalore stated that Dr. Chakraborty’s team is the only one doing such important work in the nation. “Over the next few years, I expect they will be able to make further contributions to this exciting field of astronomy.”

It took the team at PRL 420 days of observation to come to these conclusions about EPIC 211945201b. They observed the planet using the PARAS spectrograph – the only one of its kind in India, one of the very few models of its accuracy outside Western nations. Most impressively, this spectrograph was designed and built in-house by PRL, cementing their discovery as an indigenous one.

The findings of their year-and-a-half long investigation will be published in the June edition of The Astronomical Journal, published by the American Astronomical Society.

Header Image: Unsplash/Nathan Anderson 

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