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Space & Astronomy

Exoplanet discovery 'most important so far'

By T.K. Randall
November 13, 2015 · Comment icon 8 comments



The newly discovered world is located 39 light years away. Image Credit: ESO/L. Calcada
A newly identified extrasolar planet is so close by that it should be possible to observe its atmosphere.
Located three times nearer to us than any Earth-sized extrasolar planet ever discovered, the rocky world of GJ 1132b, which is 16% larger than our own planet, orbits a nearby red dwarf star and could provide astronomers with a unique opportunity to determine the chemistry of its atmosphere.

While its surface is believed to be too hot to support life, it should be possible to learn a great deal about what conditions are like there while also perfecting the techniques needed to conduct similar studies on other, more habitable Earth-like worlds.

"If this planet still has an atmosphere, then we might find other, cooler planets that also have atmospheres and orbit small stars," said MIT's Zachory Berta-Thompson.
"We can then imagine interrogating the atmospheres for molecules that come from life."

Astronomer Drake Deming of the University of Maryland maintains that GJ 1132b, given its relative proximity to us and its potential for study, is "arguably the most important planet ever found outside the solar system" on the basis that "itís nearby, itís Earth-like, and its star wonít interfere."

"GJ 1132b is too warm to be habitable, but scientists have yet to fully explore our cosmic neighborhood for worlds that potentially harbor life," he wrote.

Source: The Guardian | Comments (8)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by russ117044 7 years ago
How can this "exoplanet" be 3 times closer to Earth than Earth is to the sun? They say that their host star is 37 ly away. Um, a little more than 93,000,000 miles! What a goof.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 7 years ago
How can this "exoplanet" be 3 times closer to Earth than Earth is to the sun? I have reread, several times, both the Guardian story that the front page links to and the CfA story I linked to and in neither can I find what you are claiming is said. The closest I can find is this from the Guardian: Located three times nearer to us than any Earth-sized extrasolar planet ever discovered What a goof. Maybe, but by whom?
Comment icon #3 Posted by acute 7 years ago
I declare this planetary body to be British Sovereign Territory, and hereby claim it on behalf of The Crown, at the behest of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, for the glory and furtherment of her empire, commonwealth, and dominions.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 7 years ago
I declare this planetary body to be British Sovereign Territory, and hereby claim it on behalf of The Crown, at the behest of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, for the glory and furtherment of her empire, commonwealth, and dominions. Congratulations, you are now in violation of international law.
Comment icon #5 Posted by acute 7 years ago
Congratulations, you are now in violation of international law. How so? Did Norway get there first as usual?
Comment icon #6 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 7 years ago
How so? The UN Outer Space Treaty, of which the UK is a signatory, forbids any nation from claiming any celestial body as it's territory.
Comment icon #7 Posted by jmccr8 7 years ago
I didn't sign anything and claim it for myself,everyone's invited for beer and eats..band starts at nine cover at ten come early. jmccr8
Comment icon #8 Posted by Emma_Acid 7 years ago
Congratulations, you are now in violation of international law. We were built on empire. When has a poxy international law ever stopped us.


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