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Space & Astronomy

Second-closest extrasolar planet discovered

By T.K. Randall
November 14, 2018 · Comment icon 19 comments

An artist's impression of the surface of the new planet. Image Credit: M. Kornmesser/ESO
Astronomers have revealed the discovery of a 'super-Earth' around a star that is a mere six light years away.
Believed to be approximately three times the mass of our own planet, this icy extrasolar world orbits Barnard's star at around the same distance as Mercury orbits the Sun in our own solar system.

The discovery is particularly important because planets around neighboring stars will be prime candidates for direct observation by the next generation of telescopes.

"We think that this is what we call a Super-Earth - that would be possibly a mostly rocky planet with a massive atmosphere," said Dr Anglada Escude from London's Queen Mary University.
"It's probably very rich in volatiles like water, hydrogen, carbon dioxide - things like this."

Based on the distance alone, scientists estimate that the surface temperature could be as little as -150C, however it is possible that the planet's atmosphere could help to warm things up.

"On the surface, the temperature could be much higher," said Dr Escude.

"There can be surprises, so we have to keep an open mind when trying to characterise this planet."

Source: BBC News | Comments (19)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #10 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 5 years ago
It depends on it's radius. Surface gravity is determined not just by the mass of the planet but how far away you are from it's centre (or put another way surface gravity is determined by density). Surface gravity as a proportion of Earth's is determined by the equation: g∝m/r2 where g is surface gravity, m is the mass of the planet and r is the radius of the planet (in all cases Earth = 1). The planet has a mass around 3 times that of Earth, So if the planet has the same radius as Earth it's surface gravity = 3/12 = 3. Certainly uncomfortable However if the planet also has a radius 3x greate... [More]
Comment icon #11 Posted by sci-nerd 5 years ago
We already solved that issue.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 5 years ago
Did we? You need to tell NASA then as they don't seem to have got the message.
Comment icon #13 Posted by sci-nerd 5 years ago
Alright, maybe I should have said: They already know how to solve the issue. Sorry for creating confusion on the matter.
Comment icon #14 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 5 years ago
Still not correct. Read your own link, especially the bit I have quoted below: What you should have said is, "NASA are working on ways to solve the issue", That;s very, VERY different from having solved the problem.
Comment icon #15 Posted by sci-nerd 5 years ago
It's like if you're in Toronto, and want to go to New York, but without signs along the way. You head south-east, and you will most likely get to New York sooner or later. The "knowing how to solve it" is like knowing to go south-east. Get it? 
Comment icon #16 Posted by sci-nerd 5 years ago
Continue reading after the post you just quoted me from, and the confusion is cleared 
Comment icon #17 Posted by sci-nerd 5 years ago
But we are determined to. We know the way to go. We are far from clueless. I'd go as far as saying: It's just a matter of time. Nothing else.
Comment icon #18 Posted by sci-nerd 5 years ago
No shielding is good enough for months/years in space, unfortunately. They are working on a medical solution, according to my above link.
Comment icon #19 Posted by sci-nerd 5 years ago
It's not quite comparable to space. In Chernobyl they used Uranium 235, a very heavy isotope that would be extremely rare in space.

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