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Space & Astronomy

Earth-like world found 14 light years away

December 17, 2015 | Comment icon 22 comments



Could there be alien life on a planet 14 light years away ? Image Credit: NASA
A potentially habitable terrestrial planet has been discovered in the relatively nearby Wolf 1061 system.
The hunt for a second Earth may have just moved a lot closer to home - give or take a few trillion miles - thanks to the discovery of three planets orbiting a red dwarf star only 14 light years away.

All three of these worlds are thought to be rocky terrestrial planets like the Earth and one of them is even sitting within the 'Goldilocks' zone where liquid water could potentially exist on its surface.

Despite the similarities to our own planet however this alien world is thought to orbit much closer to its parent star with a year there flashing past within the equivalent of just 18 Earth days.

"Given how close the planet is to the star it is likely to be 'tidally locked'," said team leader Duncan Wright from the University of New South Wales. "This means that one hemisphere of the planet will always face towards the star, much like one side of the moon always faces Earth."
While this normally means that one side of the planet will be very hot and the other side very cold, atmospheric modelling has indicated that high winds could help to circulate the heat.

As for whether the planet can support life - there's really no way to tell for sure at the moment, but scientists are certain that there are countless other worlds just like it throughout the universe.

"There is somewhere in the vicinity of 100 billion stars in our galaxy," said Dr Wright. "We know that half of those stars are red dwarf stars, like Wolf 1061."

"From observations made by the Kepler space telescope, we also know that half of those stars are expected to have multiple rocky planets orbiting them."

Source: Sydney Morning Herald | Comments (22)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #13 Posted by EBE Hybrid 7 years ago
Being in the Goldilocks Zone would certainly make the planet an interesting place to look. The possibility of life on the planet is an interesting one, firstly how thick is the atmosphere? If the atmosphere is too thin then the planet surface would be very susceptible to meteor impacts thus reducing the possibility of surface life having the opportunity to establish itself, evolve to multicell organisms and eventually become sentient. Marine life may stand a better chance of developing, as the planet may be tidally locked the water would presumably be pulled more to the hot side of the planet,... [More]
Comment icon #14 Posted by Frank Merton 7 years ago
We are not going to find advanced life orbiting in the "Goldilocks zone" around a red dwarf. Those things are too active (flare activity) and dangerous and in the G-zone one is going to have a tidal lock. I think red dwarfs are popular in this context because they are so numerous. If you rule them out you cut the number of planets that qualify by about eighty percent.
Comment icon #15 Posted by highdesert50 7 years ago
It is interesting to note that there is controversy with regard to the idea of the Goldilock's zone or circumstellar habitable zone as it is historically modeled around our solar system and weighted to carbon-based life. But, even within our solar system's Goldilocks zone it seems we must consider the scale of time relative to the evolution of life. Mars holds promise of discovery of microbial remnants, but I would imagine it would be rather difficult to even find remnants of life on Venus or even our own moon. It seems there is a large range of macro and micro environmental variables for esta... [More]
Comment icon #16 Posted by Frank Merton 7 years ago
I have yet to be shown a credible idea of how it might be possible for life to exist in any form other than carbon chains in a liquid water medium -- the notorious "life as we know it." People can speculate all they want but it seems unlikely in the extreme. That said, I also don't think the terminology adopted by those seeking life out there is accurate. "Super earth," meaning a rocky planet significantly larger than the earth, is, while technically correct, very misleading as it sound as though it might be something better than the earth, but any such planet in a Goldilocks orbit is not goin... [More]
Comment icon #17 Posted by Hawkin 6 years ago
Since Alpha Centauri is the closes star to our system, What would that make the Wolf System to ours?
Comment icon #18 Posted by crandles57 6 years ago
Since Alpha Centauri is the closes star to our system, What would that make the Wolf System to ours? A team of Australian scientists has found the closest potentially habitable planet orbiting a star just 14 light years away. At 130 trillion kilometres it might sound impossibly distant, but Wolf 1061 in the constellation Ophiucus is the 35th closest star to Earth. http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/astronomy/wolf-1061c-closest-planet-found-orbiting-in-a-stars-habitable-zone-14-light-years-from-earth-20151216-gloy0w.html
Comment icon #19 Posted by Zalmoxis 6 years ago
Well, 14 light years doesn't sound that far. When I was a kid we were told the closest star was 20 light years. Our science has advanced. I didn't know about tidal lock. Soon I will get on reading about it. I would say as per the other responses of the other UM users, I really doubt life exists on panet Wolf.
Comment icon #20 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 6 years ago
Well, 14 light years doesn't sound that far. When I was a kid we were told the closest star was 20 light years. Sorry but that is nonsense. The distance to Alpha Centauri has been known since 1839.
Comment icon #21 Posted by Zalmoxis 6 years ago
Sorry but that is nonsense. The distance to Alpha Centauri has been known since 1839. Don't be sorry. It is true that I was taught this bogus information and it isn't the only bogus information I was given while in that critical learning stage. I was misinformed.
Comment icon #22 Posted by Derek Willis 6 years ago
Sorry but that is nonsense. The distance to Alpha Centauri has been known since 1839. Some people are seriously being taught that the universe was created in seven days, 6,000 years ago.


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