When astronomers want to discover and ascertain the existence of a new planet apart from the sun, they give it time to complete three orbits. Nevertheless, this method has its shortcomings because it cannot ascertain the existence of a planet at long periods. The method is only ideal for short periods such as days or months.
However, some astronomers with the supervision of the University of Geneva have come up with a way of overcoming this challenge. The newly-developed technique allows them to confirm a planet’s presence in a couple of months or even up to ten years.
The transits technique involves the detection of a dip in the glare of the hosting star particularly when the planet passes. The method is therefore ideal for identifying exo-planets. It also allows for the estimation of a planet’s radius and the orbit’s angle which is applicable to a massive number of stars.
However, the method has its fair share of drawbacksconsidering that it is mandatory to wait until the suspected planet moves at the front of the star at least three times. It is therefore only useful in the detection and identification of planets that orbit for short periods particularly few days or months. If the method was to be utilized, it would take more than thirty years toidentify a planet that resembles Jupiter which often takes eleven years to orbit.
However, a crew of Astronomers headed by Helen Giles has developed a way of handling this challenge. The astronomers’ evaluated data from a space telescope model K2 which suggested a temporary decline in the luminosity over long periods as well the probability of a planet moving in front of a star. The astronomers had to assess a large number of light curves.
Helen Giles analyzed new findings from the Gaia mission with the aim of establishing the length and distance of the star marked EPIC248847494. The data she acquired established that the location of the planet is about 4.5 times larger than the distance between the sun and the earth. Therefore, one orbit takes about ten years to complete.
The only question that remains unanswered is if it was a planet or star. However, the solution will soon be found by a Chile-based telescope. Helen Giles also managed to assume the mass of the planet by evaluating the star’s radial speed. She ascertained that the object’s mass is thirteen times smaller than that of Jupiter which is way below a star’s minimum weight.
Helen is optimistic that the new method could be effective in searching for other planets that may be habitable.