The European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (ESO’s VLT) in Chile has been used by a team ofAstronomers to shed light on planets around a nearby star, L 98-59, that resemble those in the inner Solar System A planet with half the mass of Venus is the lightest exoplanet ever to be measured using the radial velocity technique, as well as a planet that may have an atmosphere that protects and supports life.
The detection of biosignatures on an exoplanet depends on the ability to study its atmosphere, but current telescopes are not large enough to achieve the resolution needed to do this. The newly studied planetary system, L 98-59 after its star, is an attractive target for future observations of exoplanet atmospheres.
It is only 35 light-years away and has been found to host rocky planets like Earth or Venus, which are close enough to the star to be warm. The two planets closest to the star are probably dry, but may have small amounts of water, while up to 30% of the third planet’s mass could be water, making it an ocean world. They believe there is a fifth planet in a zone at the right distance from the star for liquid water to exist on its surface.
A researcher at the University of Porto in Portugal is the lead author of a new study that suggests there is a planet in the system. This is the lightest exoplanet measured using this technique, which calculates the wobble of the star caused by the tiny tug of its planets. The measurement would not have been possible without the precision and stability provided by Espresso.
Calculating the mass of the smallest planets beyond the Solar System is a step forward in our ability to do so. The transit method is used by this satellite to find the planets and measure their size. Demangeon and his team were able to find extra planets with the addition of the High Accuracy radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) at the La Silla 3.6-metre telescope.
The team hopes to continue to study the system with the forthcoming NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope. The HIRES instrument on the ELT may have the power to study the atmospheres of some of the planets in the L 98-59 system. We have been chasing planets since the birth of astronomy and now we are getting closer and closer to the detection of a planet in the star’s habitable zone, of which we could study the atmosphere.
The team is made up of Olivier D. S. Demangeon (Instituto de Astrofsica e Cincias do Espao, Universidade do Porto, Portugal). The 16 Member States are Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Finn, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. The design, construction, and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities are the focus of an ambitious program by the ESO.
A leading role in promoting and organizing cooperation in astronomy is played by ESO. La Silla, Paranal, and Chajnantor are three world-class observing sites. The Very Large Telescope and its world-leading Very Large Telescope Interferometer as well as two survey telescopes are located at Paranal.
The world’s largest and most sensitive gamma-ray observatory will be located at Paranal ESO. The largest astronomy project in existence, ALMA, is a major partner in two facilities. The ELT, which will be the world’s biggest eye on the sky, is being built on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal.”