Earth-Like Planet Found Nearby Has Life Potential: Astronomers

Earth-Like Planet Found Nearby Has Life Potential: Astronomers

An exoplanet orbiting a nearby red-dwarf star may be the "best place to look for signs of life beyond the solar system", according to the team of astronomers that has discovered the rocky world.

The exoplanet, which has been (rather unimaginatively) named LHS 1140b, orbits right in the middle of the red dwarf's habitable zone (HZ) - the region of space around a star in which a planet could potentially sustain liquid water on its surface.

Regarding the age of the planet, the authors of the study said that it probably formed in a manner similar to Earth and its star is probably 5 billion years old, about the same age as the Sun, although the age of M-class stars is hard to determine for a variety of factors, the Spanish researcher added.

Scientists believe that one of the major factors that governed the emergence of life on Earth was the presence of liquid water, and so telescopes target distant worlds capable of harboring this precious resource when searching for the hallmarks of life beyond our planet. Astronomers say it is a particularly exciting discovery because it is in a "habitable zone" and could support life.

Meanwhile, an asteroid nicknamed "The Rock" that could be big enough to devastate a country last night made its closest approach to Earth in 400 years.

But for a planet that's orbiting a star about 800,000 years away from us in the constellation of Cetus, how do we know such details? Otherwise, scientists can use the upcoming ESO Extremely Large Telescope to make even more detailed observations about LHS 1140b's atmosphere.

The joint exercise revealed a small, dim star circled by a small, tubby planet. In this case, the planet orbits about 10 times closer to its star than Earth does around our sun.

In our Solar System, such a planet would be so scorched that any atmosphere and surface water would be stripped away.

Ronaldo treble ends Bayern Munich Champions League title bid
Needing at least two goals to progress, Bayern led when Robert Lewandowski confidently drilled in a penalty kick. Bayern, the 2013 Champions League victor , had made it at least to the semifinals for the last five seasons.

Before the discovery of super-Earths, Earth was considered to be the largest rocky planet. Indeed, Zavier Delfosse and Xavier Bonfils, two members of the study's team in France, described the recent era of exoplanet discovery as "remarkable".

The planet was first detected in September 2014, using a group of telescopes in southern Chile.

Further observations from the High Accuracy Radial-velocity Planet Searcher, or HARPS, led the researchers to estimate the planet's mass at 6.6 times that of Earth.

The planet's large size means that a magma ocean could have existed on its surface for millions of years. "We don't have atmospheric measurements right now, but the star behaves nicely so that it's not ruling out anything", says Dittman. "Once the star had calmed down a bit, the magma would cool and start to release its water and other gases, forming the planet's atmosphere".

"There has been lots of debate about whether these planets can maintain a magnetic field (and if that's important for habitability) and if M-dwarf planets lose their atmospheres in their host star's active youth", principal investigator Jason Dittman of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics told Astronomy.

The scientists aren't wasting any time following up with observations: the next transit (where the planet crosses in front of the star) will occur on October 26 and they've booked several telescopes in Chile to search for signatures of oxygen molecules in the planet's atmosphere.

"This is the first one where we actually know it's rocky", Charbonneau said.

Make that super-sized, because it belongs to a class of planets called super-Earths that are more massive than Earth but not quite the size of giants Neptune or Jupiter.

Related Articles

  • Obama aide says intel not used to spy on Trump advisers

    Trump national security aides discovered that Rice requested the identities of Trump campaign advisers. Corn, the D.C. bureau chief at Mother Jones.

    The Final iPhone 8 Design Appears To Have Been Leaked

    However, he said Apple's 3D sensing production appears on track, and could be a viable alternative to fingerprints. The iPhone 8 may come housed with a dual-camera setup, but vertically-oriented, unlike the iPhone 7 Plus.

    Thunder's Westbrook focused on playoffs, not historic season

    Game 4 was basically all Rockets as Houston just overwhelmed the Thunder with their shooting and ability to spread OKC's defense. Did you think Westbrook would average a triple double this year? He's facing another player who gets triple-doubles in bunches.
  • Maxine Waters Calls Out Fox News As A 'Sexual Harassment Enterprise'

    She said that advertisers that stay on the show could trigger consumers to boycott their products or services. The news has sparked an exodus of advertisers telling Fox they didn't want to be involved in O'Reilly's show.
    Boente claims Klitschko could fight on

    Boente claims Klitschko could fight on

    Know your place chump! "X2 ringside tickets dn't bring a plus 1 it's for ur fat ass", he replied. Anthony Joshua during a press conference ahead of his fight with Wladimir Klitschko.

    Cavaliers to sign Dahntay Jones for playoffs

    Love, who missed 30 days recovering from knee surgery, said he is ready to go after two hard practices. Everybody has a clear understanding of what needs to be done and individually what they need to do.
  • Can The Utah Jazz Do It Again In Game 2?

    Gordon Missed a few really open shots as well. "I have to be aggressive offensively and defensively, so nothing is different". Paul and Griffin are likely to become free agents this summer when they exercise the player options in their contracts.

    Moving Stocks: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD), Ford Motor Co. (F)

    Teachers Advisors LLC boosted its stake in shares of Advanced Micro Devices by 14.2% in the fourth quarter. 01/06/2017 - D.A. A total of 38.08 million shares exchanged at hands and its average trading volume is standing at 70.28 million shares.

    Tillerson, Lavrov open tense meeting in Moscow

    After initially declining a meeting between Rex Tillerson and Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin agreed to it at the last minute. Moscow hasn't seen "a single fact, or even a hint at facts" confirming that the Russians interfered, he said.
  • Insurers Say Trump Must Do More To Stabilize 'Obamacare'

    In response, Democrats are planning to tie that money to the government funding bill that needs to pass at the end of the month. Trump should be working to preserve the Affordable Care Act, which is delivering health insurance to millions of Americans.

    Mark Hamill says he'd like to play George Lucas in a movie

    You play the role of Commander Iden Versio, leader of the Galactic Empire's elite special forces unit, Inferno Squad . Deluxe edition buyers will receive three days early access and all PS4 pre-orders will receive a bonus theme.
    Questions about free college tuition in NY

    Questions about free college tuition in NY

    So now you have to live in NY , which according to smartasset.com, has a cost of living 68.8% higher than the national average. What does it mean, indeed - especially for current, future and prospective State University of NY at Fredonia students.