Artist's impression of Barnard's Star and its super-Earth

An artist's rendition of Barnard's star b with the star in the background.                  ESO  M. Kornmesser

But it wasn't until the first exoplanet discovery was confirmed in 1995 that the search for a world around Barnard's Star began in earnest.

As a red dwarf, Barnard's star is smaller, older and much cooler than the sun.

At almost 6 light-years away, the star is the next closest star to the Sun after the Alpha Centauri triple stellar system.

Might that have happened at Barnard's star?

A team of astrophysicists believe they have discovered a huge, icy, dimly-lit "Super-earth" - 3.2 times as massive as our planet - and it's just six light-years away, according to a new report published this week in the journal Nature. Astronomer's call such movement "proper motion".

"Barnard's star is an infamous object among astronomers and exoplanet scientists, as it was one of the first stars where planets were initially claimed but later proven to be incorrect", said study co-author Guillem Anglada Escudé, from Queen Mary's School of Physics and Astronomy. Over several decades, starting in the late 1930s, he studied the star, taking myriad images, and observing it moving against the background stars. His data invoked the presence of two planets tugging the star around as it moved through space.

"The new planet is impossible for Peter van de Kamp to have detected".

"The James Webb Space Telescope might not help in this case, because it was not designed for what's called high contrast imaging". That puts Barnard's star b squarely into a terra incognita between small rocky planets like Earth and larger gas planets like Neptune. Which brings us to our new find.

However, the new data contain tentative hints of a second planet orbiting Barnard's Star even further out than the Super-Earth. While no such planet exists in our backyard, the Kepler spacecraft revealed that such planets are common in the cosmos. This makes Barnard's Star b a prime candidate for us to use powerful spectroscopic techniques to, one day, peer into its atmosphere (if it has one) and understand what it's really made of.

Finding a planet near Barnard's Star shows the value of combining a bunch of datasets on planet searching, something that is already ongoing with the Red Dots campaign, whose goal is to find terrestrial planets at stars nearby our own sun. This means it must be a frigid world. Grains of dust (and ice) collide slowly, growing ever larger worlds. Modeling has suggested that the location of the snow line may be the most efficient location to form a planet, which might then migrate elsewhere in the exosolar system in response to its interactions with the disk.


The subtle wobble of the star has caught the attention of astronomers for some time.

Loacting Barnard's Star candidate planet.

There are a few ways the planet's existence could be verified.

A light-year is the distance light travels in one year.

Barnard's star has been observed extensively over the years, partly because it's so close, partly because it's a prototypic example of a red dwarf star.

Astronomers can use this technique to measure a planet´s velocity and, therefore, mass.

In the coming decade, the next generation of astronomical observatory will revolutionise our ability to peer into the space close to the nearest stars, looking for the dim glow of their planets, reflecting the light of their host stars. That's hard to do because, viewed from Earth, the planet is close to the star and swamped by its glare.

"If you take the specs of how it should perform, it should easily image this planet".

Beyond that? Who knows.

Related News:



Most liked

PS4 Black Friday 2018 sales include a cheap Spider-Man bundle
I think we get a cut for PS4 (to $249) and Pro (to $349) around Black Friday , but the pricing now makes RDR look like it's free. Apparently this is also just a preview of the full sale, with "more details "to be confirmed soon".

Edinburgh named as one of first United Kingdom cities for EE’s 5G upgrade
Each 5G site will boast transmission links of up to 10Gbps and connect to the Petabit-class BT 21CN backbone network. There's also the cost of using 5G with EE confirming it will be more expensive than current 4G price plans.

McIlroy to give up European Tour membership in 2019
Not the sort of news European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley wanted in the final event of the 2018 season. Fleetwood will have to win the DP World Tour Championship and Molinari finish no lower than a tie for fifth.

Canada in talks with Pakistan over possibly taking in Asia Bibi
The charge also carries the death penalty and critics say the controversial blasphemy law is abused to settle religious scores. In 2011, the governor of Punjab province was killed by his own guard after he defended Bibi and criticized the blasphemy law.

SAP buying experience management firm Qualtrics for $8 billion
The tech industry's newest billionaires are a pair of brothers who started a software company in their parents' basement in Utah. CNBC reported that SAP has been looking to add new cloud-based products as it moves away from desktop-focused software.

Jacob deGrom and Blake Snell win Cy Young awards
The AL Cy Young was one of the toughest awards to pick this year , as Snell, Verlander and Kluber each had compelling cases. The 25-year-old pitched had 33 1/3 fewer innings than Verlander, but his dominance was enough to sway the electorate.

$1.5B Mega Millions victor has not claimed prize, report says
Check your numbers: victor announced in record $1.6 billion Mega Millions lottery, the largest jackpot in the history of the game. The store that sold the winning ticket, KC Mart in Simpsonville, SC, will receive $50,000, according to ABC News .

3 teams who should make a move for Carmelo Anthony
He played in just 10 games with the Houston Rockets , averaging 13.4 points (on 40.5 percent shooting) and 5.4 rebounds. Per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski , there are many around that league that believe he's played his last game in Houston.

Baby delivered after pregnant mother shot dead with crossbow in her home
The 35-year-old's husband, Imtiaz Muhammad, said his wife had been shot in front of her five children, aged between one and 17. She was rushed to hospital where doctors performed an emergency Caesarean section but she died just over three hours later.

Only One in Five Teens Meet Physical Fitness Guidelines
There are new key guidelines for preschool children to be active throughout the day to enhance growth and development. Eijsvogels, Ph.D., Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

NZ pip Australia to host Women's World Cup
World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said he felt the decision was global recognition for the obsession for rugby in New Zealand. The agreement is based on a New Zealand programme that ensures top players are managed and given time off during Super Rugby.

Women are tweeting pictures of their underwear after rape case
According to The Independent, the Law Reform Commission is conducting an examination of Ireland's legislation in the area of rape. As a result, jurors must weigh the value of such items as evidence.

The Royal Family shared some super cute pics for Prince Charles' 70th
Another older photo was released for the first time of Prince Charles holding Prince George at his christening on 23 October 2013. The picture was featured in a new BBC documentary called Prince, Son And Heir: Charles At 70 , also marking Charles' birthday.

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite gets trailer and 2019 release window
Now, I don't know loads about Harry Potter , so I'll try and explain the events of the trailer as best as I can. Sounds very close to GO, right? In the meantime, the developer, which is working on the game with Warner Bros.

Doctors express outrage after NRA tells them ‘to stay in their lane’
Stopping gun violence is inarguably in doctors' lanes, and as their responses clearly show, they're not going to stand down. But some stepped onto the field, like @wickedgrin1, who said, "This is a crime issue, not a public health issue.