Tokoyo scientists report the existence of 15 new planets — including one ‘super-Earth' that could harbor liquid water — orbiting small, cool stars near our solar system. These stars, known as red dwarfs1, are of enormous interest for studies of planetary formation and evolution.
Through their analysis, the team confirmed the existence of the 15 exoplanets orbiting the K2-155 red dwarf star, including three super-Earths — planets that are “somewhat larger cousins” of Earth, but smaller than Neptune.
Based on global climate simulations, the researchers also discovered that one of the three super-Earths (K2-155d) could hold liquid water on its surface, making it potentially habitable. K2-155d had a radius that is 1.6 times larger than that of Earth.
But, lead researcher Teruyuki Hirano said in a news release, "in our simulations, the atmosphere and the composition of the planet were assumed to be Earth-like, and there's no guarantee that this is the case."
It’s important to note that the number of planets around red dwarfs is much smaller than the number around solar-type stars,” Hirano added. “Red dwarf systems, especially coolest red dwarfs, are just beginning to be investigated, so they are very exciting targets for future exoplanet research.”
But the team noted a key outcome of their findings is how similar planets orbiting red dwarf stars may be to planets orbiting solar-type stars. In fact, this is the first time that researchers have shown a similar radius gap in both groups.