Astronomers have discovered a planet called GJ 367 b, which is half the mass of Earth. Made of almost pure iron, it is one of the lightest extrasolar planets, located very close to its host star, and completes its orbit in just 7.7 hours.
The planet is also called super-Mercury because of its position and composition, and has challenged many theories of planet formation. This planet can be a sign of the existence of small worlds whose diversity is far beyond expectations. Diana Valencia“Finding such planets is a great achievement,” says astrophysicist at the University of Toronto-Scarborough.
GJ 367b orbits the Red Dwarfs 31 light-years from Earth. Researchers discovered the planet using NASA’s TESS space telescope (a satellite surveying the transiting extrasolar planet). The telescope detects host stars by measuring the light fluctuations of planets as they pass. With this method, scientists can also estimate the size of the planet.
The diameter of the New World is approximately nine thousand kilometers or three-fourths of the diameter of the planet Earth. Subsequent observations with the HARPS instrument, an instrument on the La Silla Observatory Telescope in Chile, allowed researchers to estimate the planet’s mass.
The HARPS detector follows the oscillations that extrasolar planets make on their host stars. The heavier the planets, the stronger these oscillations appear. Given the mass and diameter of GJ 367 b, scientists were also able to compare its density. The composition of this planet is similar to Mercury and a large part of it is made up of iron. Christine W. F. لم, The astronomer of the German Aerospace Center in Berlin and the lead author of this article, states:
This is a strange planet. GJ 367 b is probably very fiery due to its close proximity to its stars, and its daytime temperature can reach over 1,480 ° C; Very hot temperatures that can melt rock and even iron, and this planet is probably a lava planet.
The artist’s conceptual design of the transient extrasolar mapping satellite, or TESS, which recorded the first observation of the GJ 367b.
GJ 367 b provides scientists with a way to study worlds close to stars. According to pioneering theories, the rocky planet Mercury formed at the beginning of the life of the solar system close to the sun. Space objects gradually bombarded the planet, obliterating its crust and mantle; As a result, Mercury is actually the nucleus of giant planets located near the fiery sun.
However, the problem with this scenario is that it is not entirely effective. Collisions may have destroyed the outer layers of Mercury; But these materials usually do not go very far, and naturally they must be caught in the sun’s gravity and placed in a close orbit and return to its surface again.
The presence of GJ 367b and similar objects means that many such planets are not uncommon. In fact, current models may be deficient in planet formation. Heavy elements such as iron may have approached the star somewhat in the early days. Today, the idea is merely speculative; However, worlds like GJ 367b could lead scientists in this direction.
Researchers want to make more observations of the system. They will probably use a giant telescope to capture light from the GJ 367b and find out about its atmospheric and surface properties.
Larger worlds have always been easier to discover than smaller worlds, and researchers have discovered a set of Jupiter-like planets with orbital and compositional features. With the further development of telescopes, discoveries will become easier and the possibility of discovering smaller objects such as the GJ 367b will increase. Jonathan Fortney“University of California planetary scientist concludes:
Remember that these planets have their own story. New methods show that the planets are very diverse.