Earth-Sized Planet Orbits its Host Star in Just a Few Days

How would it be if a year lasted for only three days? Just like a second and a day, a full year is measured mechanically. A year practically means a full rotation of the Earth around the Sun that lasts for 365 days. But if the Earth revolved around the Sun much faster, a year would have been much shorter.

Thanks to a team of scientists, with some of them from MIT, and data taken by the Kepler Space Telescope’s K2 mission, a new Earth-sized exoplanet known as K2-315b that revolves around its host star once every 3.14 days was discovered. There’s no wonder why we should call the planet as the ‘pi Earth’ since its orbital period is a direct reference to the mathematical number.

SPECULOOS was needed

SPECULOOS is a network of ground-based telescopes, and the research team needed it to confirm that the discovered signals were actually of a planet that orbits its star. Prajwal Niraula, who is a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS), says:

This would be too hot to be habitable in the common understanding of the phrase,

He also speaks about the upcoming and next-generation James Webb Space Telescope:

There will be more interesting planets in the future, just in time for JWST, a telescope designed to probe the atmosphere of these alien worlds,

With better algorithms, hopefully one day, we can look for smaller planets, even as small as Mars.

How a year is measured doesn’t represent the only example of time being measured mechanically. Six full rotations of the electron around the nucleus inside a cesium atom mean a second, and one spin of the Earth around its own axis means a day.

The study paper was published in the Astronomical Journal, and it’s titled: “π Earth: a 3.14-day Earth-sized Planet from K2’s Kitchen Served Warm by the SPECULOOS Team.”

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