A new planet, more than three times the mass of Earth, has been discovered orbiting our closest single star. The discovery, which took more than 20 years to make, marks a change in the way we look for new planets.
This is the first time a planet of its size, known as a super-Earth, with an orbital period of 200 days, has been found using a well-established method; by measuring the fractional changes in the speed of the star caused by the planet orbiting around it.
This method, known as the radial velocity method, is usually used to find much larger stars. This is because the change in speed of a star caused by a planet is so small it can be difficult to detect, particularly in lower-mass planets.
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