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Second-closest extrasolar planet discovered


Posted on Wednesday, 14 November, 2018 | Comment icon 25 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 (25)

Tags: Exoplanet

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #16 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 16 November, 2018, 18:14
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 #17 Posted by sci-nerd on 16 November, 2018, 18:22
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 #18 Posted by seanjo on 16 November, 2018, 18:44
Really, how?
Comment icon #19 Posted by sci-nerd on 16 November, 2018, 18:51
Continue reading after the post you just quoted me from, and the confusion is cleared 
Comment icon #20 Posted by seanjo on 16 November, 2018, 18:57
So no, we haven't solved that yet.
Comment icon #21 Posted by sci-nerd on 16 November, 2018, 19:00
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 #22 Posted by seanjo on 16 November, 2018, 19:01
Right now shielding is the only way to protect people, and that makes craft too heavy...at the moment.
Comment icon #23 Posted by sci-nerd on 16 November, 2018, 19:05
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 #24 Posted by seanjo on 16 November, 2018, 19:06
They should have a look around Chernobyl, life is thriving there.
Comment icon #25 Posted by sci-nerd on 16 November, 2018, 19:16
It's not quite comparable to space. In Chernobyl they used Uranium 235, a very heavy isotope that would be extremely rare in space. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RBMK


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