FACULTY-STUDENT TEAM DISCOVERS SUPER-EARTHS

A team of scientists from Wesleyan, led by Associate Professor of Astronomy Seth Redfield and graduate student Prajwal Niraula, has coauthored a paper on the discovery of three planets, or super-Earths, transiting around a nearby star, just 98 light-years away.

“Super-Earths are slightly larger than Earth, and the three of them straddle the divide between the rocky planets like Earth and ice giants like Neptune,” explains Redfield.

These planets were found using the Kepler Space Telescope. “Kepler has found thousands of exoplanets these last eight years, but this is the closest planetary system that Kepler has ever found, although closer planetary systems have been found using different telescopes,” says Redfield.

(Pictured is a rendering of the discovery of super-Earths (Courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams.)