• An exoplanet was confirmed by an Earth-based spectograph
  • The exoplanet orbits an M dwarf host star
  • Future studies could analyze the exoplanet's atmospheric conditions

A group of scientists was able to confirm that the cosmic body that previously emitted an infrared signal is a new exoplanet. Its designation was confirmed by an exoplanet-hunting spectrograph.

The new exoplanet was detected by the Habitable-Zone Planet Finder (HPF) at the McDonald Observatory in Texas. It is an accurate spectrograph built by the Pennsylvania State University (PSU) to measure infrared signals. The study carried out by PSU scientists using the HPF was published in the Astronomical Journal.

Known as G 9-40B, this exoplanet was first detected by the Kepler Space Telescope through its infrared signals. After analyzing these signals, the HPF then validated it as an exoplanet. According to scientists from the PSU, G 9-40B is about twice as big as Earth and is about as large as Neptune.

Observations on the planet revealed that it is orbiting a low-mass M dwarf host star that’s only about 100 light-years from Earth. The scientists noted that the exoplanet completes its transit or journey in front of its host star in about six Earth days.

Aside from the HPF, the scientists were also able to observe G 9-40B using a ground-based telescope at the Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico. Through their observations with this telescope, the scientists were able to observe the transit shape on the planet.

This represents the part of the planet’s light that’s blocked as it moves in front of its host star. Through this observation, the scientists were able to collect more precise planetary parameters.

Through the data gathered about G 9-40B, the scientists believe that the exoplanet could be an ideal candidate for future in-depth studies that would focus on its atmospheric conditions. These kinds of studies would provide clear information regarding the exoplanet’s environmental features and could even determine if it is potentially habitable.

“This demonstrates that a planet is causing the dips in light from the host star, rather than another astrophysical object such as a background star,” Caleb Canas of PSU said in a statement. “We hope to obtain more observations with HPF to precisely measure its mass, which will allow us to constrain its bulk composition and differentiate between a predominantly rocky or gas-rich composition.”

Scientists have discovered that a new medium-sized planet is vanishing at a faster rate than others. Pictured: A hand out image made available by the European Southern Observatory on August 24 2016, shows an artist's impression of the planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Solar System. Getty Images/M. Kornmesser