A group of citizen scientists have discovered a new planet that is almost twice as large as Earth and located about 226 light-years away in the Taurus constellation.
Dubbed K2-288Bb, the planet was discovered using the data from NASA's Kepler space telescope.
According to scientists, the exoplanet lies in the stellar system K2-288. This system has two faint, cool M-type stars located about 5.1 billion miles apart. The brighter of the two stars is about half the size of the Sun. The mass and size of the dimmer star is about one-third of that of the Sun. Exoplanet K2-288Bb circles around the fainter star, and completes one revolution in every 31.3 days.
The finding was made possible with the Exoplanet Explorers programme
K2-288Bb sits within the habitable zone of its host star, meaning it could have liquid water on its surface. It is about half the size of Neptune and could be a gas-rich planet. There is also a possibility of it being a rocky world.
"It's a very exciting discovery due to how it was found, its temperate orbit and because planets of this size seem to be relatively uncommon," said Adina Feinstein, University of Chicago graduate student and the lead author of the study paper.
Feinstein worked in collaboration with Makennah Bristow, from the University of North Carolina Asheville, to discover K2-288Bb. The finding was made possible with the Exoplanet Explorers programme, a project where citizen scientists can search Kepler's K2 observations to discover new transiting planets.
Feinstein presented the discovery at the 233rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle on 7th January.
NASA's Kepler space telescope became inoperative in October 2018 after running out of fuel. However, data collected by the telescope during the course of its scientific mission has helped scientists discover 2,600 confirmed planets along with thousands of other possible candidates, which scientists are currently working to confirm.
Discovery of K2-288Bb also shows that there are many more discoveries awaiting astronomers in Kepler data.
The detailed findings of the study are published in The Astronomical Journal.
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