Author Topic: Super-Earth spotted in life-friendly zone  (Read 746 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Buster's Uncle

  • Through art, I
  • Transcend
  • *
  • Posts: 45787
  • €234
  • View Inventory
  • Send /Gift
  • Someone thinks a Winrar is You!  Because there are times when people just need a cute puppy  Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur  
  • AC2 is my instrument, my heart, as I play my song.
  • Planet tales writer Smilie Artist Custom Faction Modder AC2 Wiki contributor Downloads Contributor
    • View Profile
    • My Custom Factions
    • Awards
Super-Earth spotted in life-friendly zone
« on: March 17, 2012, 11:34:53 PM »
Quote
Super-Earth spotted in life-friendly zone
Latest exoplanet entry creeps closer to long-sought goal of habitability elsewhere

 By Nadia Drake


Inching ever closer toward the goal of finding another Earth, scientists have announced the most promising extraterrestrial incubator so far: a planet of at least 4.5 Earth masses, orbiting its star in the region where liquid water can stably exist.

The super-Earth is called GJ 667Cc, and it circles one member of a triple-star system shining 22 light-years from Earth near the curving tail of the constellation Scorpius.

Unlike other recent tantalizing discoveries, the planet is both well within its star’s life-friendly zone, and it’s just about the right size to host life as we know it. But that doesn’t mean GJ 667Cc is habitable, scientists caution, as crucial pieces of information are missing.

“It’s definitely the best candidate,” says astronomer Abel Méndez of the University of Puerto Rico in Arecibo, who is not a member of the planet-finding team. “If it’s rocky, then it will be more compelling evidence that this is a true habitable planet.”

An international team of scientists pulled the newly announced planet from data gathered by the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planetary Search, or HARPS, a Swiss-led project that monitors stars for the gentle gravitational tugs produced by orbiting planets. A star’s wobble reveals the mass of a planet circling it. But unless scientists can use other methods to find a planet’s radius, they don’t know how dense it is or what it might be made of.

Astronomers debate who really discovered GJ 667Cc, but this announcement comes from a team that developed a new method for processing HARPS data. As described February 2 in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, the scientists sniffed out the signatures of as many as three planets circling the star GJ 667C, says study coauthor and astrophysicist Guillem Anglada-Escudé of the University of Gottingen, in Germany.

The closest-in planet, which is also a super-Earth, zooms around the star once every 7.2 days, making it “a well-lit charcoal briquette,” says coauthor Steven Vogt, an astronomer at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The second planet — the one of interest — is a relative dawdler, taking 28.15 days to complete an orbit. The third signature could be a planet on a 75-day orbit, but it could also just be an artifact of the star’s activity.

The star is a red dwarf, dimmer and cooler than the sun, and with a habitable zone that’s snuggled in correspondingly closer, creating cozy conditions for GJ 667Cc.

“We’re nestled well within the habitable zone, just in the place Earth would be,” says Vogt. “There’s every indication that it’s a pretty benign place to be.”

Even though GJ 667Cc is in the right place for life doesn’t mean it’s habitable, say scientists including astrophysicist Sara Seager of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “The truth is, we may never know,” she says. It’s difficult to determine habitability without knowing the planet’s composition, or anything about its atmosphere and how much of the star’s energy is absorbed. “But overall I’m excited,” she says. “Whatever is going on, this is the start of the next era in exoplanets. We’re going to start seeing super-Earths in habitable zones all the time.”
http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/338148/title/Super-Earth_spotted_in_life-friendly_zone

 

* User

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?


Login with username, password and session length

Select language:

* Community poll

SMAC v.4 SMAX v.2 (or previous versions)
-=-
18 (6%)
XP Compatibility patch
-=-
9 (3%)
Gog version for Windows
-=-
77 (29%)
Scient (unofficial) patch
-=-
28 (10%)
Kyrub's latest patch
-=-
14 (5%)
Yitzi's latest patch
-=-
85 (32%)
AC for Mac
-=-
2 (0%)
AC for Linux
-=-
5 (1%)
Gog version for Mac
-=-
10 (3%)
No patch
-=-
13 (4%)
Total Members Voted: 261
AC2 Wiki Logo

* Random quote

Remember, genes are NOT blueprints. This means you can't, for example, insert the genes for an elephant's trunk into a giraffe and get a giraffe with a trunk. There are no genes for trunks. What you CAN do with genes is chemistry, since DNA codes for chemicals. For instance, we can in theory splice the native plants' talent for nitrogen fixation into a terran plant.
~Academician Prokhor Zakharov 'Nonlinear Genetics'

* Select your theme

*