Astronomers discover exoplanet orbiting small star 500 light-years away

Astronomers discover exoplanet orbiting small star 500 light-years away

A team of Australian astronomers has discovered an exoplanet that is orbiting a small star as many as five hundred light-years away.

The far away planet in question, dubbed HATS-6b, is revolving around HATS-6 star, which is nearly 50 per cent of our Sun in both mass and diameter. It is, thus, one of the smallest stars that astronomers have discovered.

Astronomers estimated that the distance between HATS-6b and HATS-6 is much smaller than the distance between out Sun and Mercury. It has an orbital period of merely 3.3 days.

In terms of weight, HATS-6b is equivalent to Saturn and nearly 100 times of our Earth. But its proximity to its sun made it so hot that it inflated like a hot air balloon to the size of Jupiter, the biggest planet in our solar system.

Researcher George Zhou, of the Australian National University's Research School of Astrophysics & Astronomy, said the planet discovered by them was much different from the previously discovered planets.

Speaking about the newly discovered exoplanet, Zhou said, "The planet has a similar mass to Saturn, but its radius is similar to Jupiter, so it's quite a puffed-up planet. Because its host star is so cool it's not heating the planet up so much; it's very different from the planets we have observed so far."

Following observations of HATS-6b from the Chilean telescope confirmed that the planet had an orbit of just one-tenth that of Mercury.

The research paper about the discovery of the exoplanet appeared in a recent edition of the Astronomical Journal.

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