Villanova astronomer among team discovering Super Earth

Mark Abrams
November 17, 2018 - 4:00 am
A view of "Super Earth," which orbits Barnard's Star, nearly seven light-years from Earth.

Villanova University

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A Villanova astronomy and planetary science professor is among an international team of astrophysicists who have discovered a planet known among scientists as a Super Earth.

Professor Edward Guinan said the discovery of the planet was made near what is called Barnard's Star.

"It's about seven light-years away, " Guinan said. "That sounds far away, but it isn't. There are many, many stars that are thousands of light-years and millions of light-years away. So this is, like, right on top of us. This is a neighbor of the sun."

Guinan said the team uncovered the planet's existence over years of observations using Earth- and space-based telescopes.

The "Super Earth" designation comes from the fact that the planet is more than three times our Earth's mass. 

And, it's visible in the northern part of the night sky.

"It's faint," he added. "It's called ninth magnitude, which means you would be using a telescope. You can use binoculars, too."