In just 33 light-years from us (yes, on a cosmic scale, this is considered a short distance), an international team of scientists has discovered a multiplanetary system that is one of the closest to Earth.
At the center of the system is a red dwarf star called HD 260655, which orbits 2 super-Earths (larger than Earth but smaller than Uranus and Neptune). Astronomers note that due to such proximity and brightness, the atmospheres of these solid celestial bodies (if any) are very convenient to study in detail.
Specialists observed the exoplanets using the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) telescope TESS. This observatory looks for similar objects in the transit method, that is, it observes the periodic change of light caused by their arrival at the star.
According to the authors’ calculations, both celestial bodies move in their own orbit so close to HD 260655 that they will not be compatible with life. This is because the temperature in one of them is 710 Kelvin and in the other – 560 Kelvin, which is incredibly hot there.
The orbital period of the first exoplanet, HD 260655b, is 2.8 days. It is 1.2 times larger than Earth. Its neighboring object is 1.5 times the size of our planet, and it takes 5.7 days to move around the light.
Scientists do not rule out that there may be other celestial bodies in the system, albeit slightly further away. It is noteworthy that such multiplanetary systems abound in the universe, especially in the case of small stars similar to the above. Therefore, it is possible that any of them is located in a zone compatible with life.
The authors presented the results of the study at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society.