New Zealand astronomers have recently discovered an ‘Earth-like planet’ in their ‘one in a million’ discovery that has now opened the horizons for various other astronomers across the globe. New Zealand’s Antonio Herrera Martin, the paper’s lead author, describes the planet-finding discovery as incredibly rare. He said, “This is a one in a million discovery due to the way the planet was discovered and because of the fact that it is three to four times larger than the size of Earth.”
The new planet is one of the handful of extra-solar planets that have been discovered with both sizes and orbits similar to Earth. Antonio Martin said that the planet was discovered using a technique called ‘gravitational microlensing’. It’s a technique where a star passes in front of another star, causing a temporary shedding of light that can reveal other undiscovered stars or planets.
He stated, “The combined gravity of the planet and its host star caused the light from a more distant background star to be magnified in a particular way. We used telescopes distributed around the world to measure the light-bending effect.” The lead researchers started analysing the data since January 2019 when it was first observed and spent nearly a full year to ensure the findings were accurate.