Astronomers at ESO used the radial velocity method to find out the mass of planet L 98-59b. It turned out that this is the lightest planet that was measured in a new way: its mass is half that of Venus.
A group of astronomers used ESO’s VLT telescope in Chile to find out which planets orbit the star in the L 98-59 system. Its appearance reminded scientists of the structure of the solar system.
The recently studied planetary system L 98-59 is interesting to astronomers as it orbits a star just 35 light years from Earth. There are also rocky planets in the system that are close enough to the star to be warm.
Astronomers have discovered that a planet with half the mass of Venus orbits around L 98-59, called L 98-59b, and is also the lightest exoplanet ever measured using the radial velocity method. The method helps to calculate the oscillations of the star, which occur due to the gravitational attraction from the orbiting planets.
Also L 98-59b may have water and life.
The planet is in the habitable zone and may have an atmosphere that protects and supports life.
Maria Rosa Zapatero Osorio, astronomer from the Center for Astrobiology in Madrid
Thanks to the ESO VLT telescope, the team was able to find out that there may be water on three planets in the L 98-59 system. The two planets closest to the star are probably dry, but may contain a small amount of water, but the third planet in a row from the star, L 98-59b, may be 30% water.
The findings will aid in the search for life on Earth-sized planets and beyond the solar system.