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Three new Earth-sized planets discovered


Posted on Tuesday, 3 May, 2016 | Comment icon 11 comments

Have scientists found an Earth 2.0 ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Luciano Mendez
Astronomers have identified three new terrestrial worlds around a relatively close 'ultracool' star.
The hunt for a habitable planet outside our solar system has received a substantial boost this week thanks to the discovery of three temperate Earth-sized worlds in orbit around a star that, despite being relatively close, is so dim that it is not even possible to see it without the use of a telescope.

Extrasolar planets are typically identified by observing them transiting in front of their parent star, a technique that can also be used to determine their size and orbital distance.

This method can also potentially reveal information about a planet's atmosphere, but because the parent star in most cases is extremely bright it is usually impossible to make anything out.

Now though, by identifying planets around extremely cool and dim stars, astronomers are hoping to get around this problem and to observe the atmospheres of extrasolar worlds directly.

This latest discovery, which was made around an ultracool star 39 light years away, features one planet in particular out of the three that appears to be a prime candidate for further study.

When the James Webb Space Telescope arrives in 2018 it should even be possible to observe the atmospheres of these worlds and find out if anything might be living there.

"Systems around these tiny stars are the only places where we can detect life on an Earth-sized exoplanet with our current technology," said study lead author Michael Gillon.

"So if we want to find life elsewhere in the universe, this is where we should start to look."

Source: Popular Science | Comments (11)

Tags: Extrasolar Planets

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #2 Posted by BeastieRunner on 3 May, 2016, 19:54
How much time does the star have left?
Comment icon #3 Posted by seeder on 3 May, 2016, 20:20
similar thread re 3 'Earth's' http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=294107&hl=%20three%20%20planets&st=0
Comment icon #4 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 3 May, 2016, 20:54
How much time does the star have left? Without knowing how old it is that is impossible to say, however small, faint stars live a lot longer than hot, large stars. Dwarf stars like this easily out live the sun, so it is a far guess that it has many billions of years left.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Infernal Gnu on 4 May, 2016, 3:21
"Small, faint stars live a lot longer than hot, large stars." So that means Pee-wee Herman should easily outlive Adele.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Skulduggery on 4 May, 2016, 6:12
Riding a bike is good cardio.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Uncle Sam on 4 May, 2016, 15:35
You know... there is something that has been bugging me... I always wonder if two planets can share the same orbit, same speed, but on the other side of the star and never know the other exist?
Comment icon #8 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 4 May, 2016, 15:43
You know... there is something that has been bugging me... I always wonder if two planets can share the same orbit, same speed, but on the other side of the star and never know the other exist? It's a great theme in science fiction but in reality no, it can't happen. No orbit is perfectly circular and so the planets would not be able to remain on the opposite sides of the sun 100% of the time. In the long term they would end up colliding or with one object expelling the other. Edited to add: The closest thing to this are trojan asteroids which share an orbit with a planet but are 60 behind or... [More]
Comment icon #9 Posted by paperdyer on 4 May, 2016, 19:44
"Small, faint stars live a lot longer than hot, large stars." So that means Pee-wee Herman should easily outlive Adele. Well for Adele will live longer as I don't know who that is. Everything is relative to one's perception.
Comment icon #10 Posted by paperdyer on 4 May, 2016, 20:05
It's a great theme in science fiction but in reality no, it can't happen. No orbit is perfectly circular and so the planets would not be able to remain on the opposite sides of the sun 100% of the time. In the long term they would end up colliding or with one object expelling the other. Edited to add: The closest thing to this are trojan asteroids which share an orbit with a planet but are 60 behind or in front of it. Waspie - Even if it were possible, wouldn't the "sister" planet affect the orbits of, let's say for argument's sake, Venus and Mars as there years are a different length?
Comment icon #11 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 4 May, 2016, 20:55
Waspie - Even if it were possible, wouldn't the "sister" planet affect the orbits of, let's say for argument's sake, Venus and Mars as there years are a different length? If I understand the question properly then the answer is yes (I am assuming that you are placing this planet in the same orbit as Earth). It would be detectable as, although hidden, it would pull on the other planets causing them to deviate from their predicted orbits. This is exactly how Neptune was discovered.


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