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Rocky planet found 21 light years away


Posted on Saturday, 1 August, 2015 | Comment icon 18 comments

The new planet is too close to its parent star to support life. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Astronomers have discovered a planet that has been described as a 'potential gold mine of science data'.
Hot on the heels of last month's discovery of an Earth-like world in the habitable zone of a distant star comes another planetary find - this time involving a planet that's a lot closer to home.

Found using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, planet HD 219134b is situated only 21 light years away but is unfortunately too close to its parent star to be able to support life.
Nonetheless, its proximity should make it possible for scientists to learn a great deal from it.

"Transiting exoplanets are worth their weight in gold because they can be extensively characterized," said scientist Michael Werner. "This exoplanet will be one of the most studied for decades to come."

In particular the planet should prove to be a prime target for NASA's upcoming James Webb Space Telescope which is scheduled to be up and running by 2018.

Source: Independent | Comments (18)

Tags: Extrasolar, Planet

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #9 Posted by Noteverythingisaconspiracy on 2 August, 2015, 19:43
Ok that was a weird couple of posts there Timonthy, Krypter3 and SnarfLion. On a more serious note, have there been any confirmation on the Earth sized planet orbiting Alpha Centauri B ? Last time I heard it was still not 100 % certain. https://en.wikipedia...pha_Centauri_Bb If that planet has been confirmed, that would surely be the closest one.
Comment icon #10 Posted by krypter3 on 3 August, 2015, 2:15
Rocky?
Comment icon #11 Posted by Frank Merton on 3 August, 2015, 2:29
Ok that was a weird couple of posts there Timonthy, Krypter3 and SnarfLion. On a more serious note, have there been any confirmation on the Earth sized planet orbiting Alpha Centauri B ? Last time I heard it was still not 100 % certain. https://en.wikipedia...pha_Centauri_Bb If that planet has been confirmed, that would surely be the closest one. What I got out of those posts is that a certain actor of a couple decades ago can be compared to a Horta. Stretching that further, it is implied that this actor is a life form, maybe of a sort that could exist on overheated rocky planets orbiting whit... [More]
Comment icon #12 Posted by bison on 3 August, 2015, 3:33
A relatively small planet in an orbit comparatively distant from its star is harder to detect by any of the common means, than a larger, closer-in one. A smaller, more distant planet causes less movement of its star. It is harder to detect when it passes between its star and Earth. Since it has a longer orbital period, it must be watched for much longer to confirm its existence. In all, it's not surprising that knowledge of planets like Earth is scarce. Given time, and the new telescopes planned for the near future, this could very well change. We seem to be coming closer and closer to detecti... [More]
Comment icon #13 Posted by Frank Merton on 3 August, 2015, 9:37
A relatively small planet in an orbit comparatively distant from its star is harder to detect by any of the common means, than a larger, closer-in one. A smaller, more distant planet causes less movement of its star. It is harder to detect when it passes between its star and Earth. Since it has a longer orbital period, it must be watched for much longer to confirm its existence. In all, it's not surprising that knowledge of planets like Earth is scarce. Given time, and the new telescopes planned for the near future, this could very well change. We seem to be coming closer and closer to detecti... [More]
Comment icon #14 Posted by bison on 3 August, 2015, 16:54
The recent trend in thinking in astronomical circles seems to be that Earth-sized planets in their star's habitable zones are relatively common. The figure I read from a statistical analysis of Kepler and Keck Observatory data is that about 20 percent of stars have such planets, in such orbits. A link to an article on this, below: http://www.keckobser..._habitable_zone
Comment icon #15 Posted by grandfunkrailroad on 6 August, 2015, 17:32
Hmm i always thought most planets were rocky (and with Rocky i am not referring to that great philosophical thinker of our age aka sylveste stallone)
Comment icon #16 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 6 August, 2015, 18:36
Hmm i always thought most planets were rocky On the contrary. Even in our solar system only half the planets are rocky. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are essentially balls of gas. The vast majority of exoplanets so far discovered are gas giants.
Comment icon #17 Posted by Timonthy on 7 August, 2015, 4:38
What I got out of those posts is Your breakdown was valuable and timely. However, I was thinking far more simple, 'Rocky' as per planet deion, and the quote in regards to the apparent value of the rock.
Comment icon #18 Posted by Frank Merton on 7 August, 2015, 5:01
Your web site is a bit breathless and extreme. I don't really know but I don't think Earths are all that common for a variety of reasons, mainly that there seems to be no sign of evolved life, that they haven't been actually verified, just "super-Earths", and there is now theoretical reason to think that most systems are much closer to their star than is the case with us and what happened with our solar system may be anomalous. Fact is the issue is not worth a discussion, and certainly not worth forming a strong opinion, since we need much more data.


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