For the past few decades, astronomy has focused heavily on the hunt for habitable extrasolar planets. For the past 15 years, an exponential growth in the number of confirmed exoplanets has been observed. This is thanks to committed missions such as Kepler, TESS, and Hubble. The CARMENES Consortium‘s statement that 59 new planets have been found nearby our planet is the most recent advancement in the search for habitable planets. The count of confirmed exoplanets is 5,272 and growing as of this point.
The most advanced planet-hunting tool in the world is the CARMENES instrument. This is an optical and near-infrared spectrograph installed on a 3.5-meter telescope. The device detects light from far-off stars, It does this with spectrometers utilizing the Radial Velocity Method to search for redshift and blueshift traces. These changes in the spectrum can provide precise mass estimations. This will show whether a planet is shifting back and forth because of gravitational forces.
Almost 200 scientists and engineers from 11 German and Spanish institutions are part of the CARMENES Consortium, which created the instrument. Their objective is to search for exoplanets with terrestrial characteristics near neighboring red dwarf stars. The Radial Velocity Method has increased the number of known exoplanets orbiting nearby M-type stars by a factor of two since the instrument’s inception. The most recent data release includes information on 59 new planets and measurements taken from 362 neighboring cold stars. This confirms the presence of candidates that had already been found.
Six Jupiter-like gas giants, 43 Earths and Super-Earths, and ten Neptune-like gas giants are among the 59 exoplanets discovered. The habitable zones surrounding a dozen of these latter planets have been discovered. The Consortium will conduct a survey of approximately 300 M5V stars, which are late-type main-sequence stars known as red dwarf suns, with a mass of approximately 0.162 times that of the Sun. The ultimate objective is to find up to 2 million Earth-like planets around M-type stars in their habitable zones.
It is anticipated that the CARMENES Consortium’s release of this first sizable dataset will inspire additional investigation and learning. Experts are utilizing visible light data from the studied stars too. This is meant to enhance the infrared data processing of CARMENES. Astronomers will have access to yet another big dataset of observations once that information is made available to the public. Meanwhile, the CARMENES Legacy-Plus mission started in 2021 and is scheduled to last until the close of 2023. It is being used by the Consortium to make additional observations of the same stars.
An important advancement in science is the characterization of exoplanets, which entails examining their atmospheres in more detail. Astronomers are able to more precisely constrain habitability thanks to this transition from the discovery method to characterization.
The most recent discovery made by the CARMENES Consortium moves us one step closer to our ultimate objective. The objective is to discover Earth-like planets orbiting nearby stars. This may put an end to the ongoing discussion regarding whether or not life is capable of existing under “crimson skies.”