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Astronomers Discover A Rare Super-Earth Exoplanet

Astronomers have found a super-Earth exoplanet towards the centre of our Milky Way galaxy, near the galactic bulge. The rare discovery has been described by scientists as to be one of the few exoplanets that are comparable to Earth, in terms of size and orbit. According to an article by the University of Canterbury, the super-Earth exoplanet’s mass would lie somewhere between that of Earth and Neptune while its host star is about 10% the size of our Sun. The exoplanet takes about 617 days to complete an orbit around its host star. Researchers were able to find the planet with the help of gravitational microlensing, a phenomenon where light from a distant source is magnified due to gravity. Scientists, in their study published in The Astronomical Journal, were analyzing OGLE-2018-BLG-0677, a microlensing event that was recorded in 2018. It was independently observed by the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE) using a telescope in Chile, and also the Korea Microlensing Telescope Network (KMTNet). Researchers of the study were part of KMTNet that used three identical telescopes in Chile, Australia, and South Africa to observe the microlensing event. The KMTNet telescopes can observe light from about one hundred million stars every 15 minutes but the number of microlensing events detected is very low.

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