Tag Archives | Exoplanets

Earth-Sized Planet Discovered in Perfect Position to Support Earth-Like Life

Seth Borenstein writes on the AP via Yahoo News:
Earth& Sun

Astronomers say they have for the first time spotted a planet beyond our own in what is sometimes called the Goldilocks zone for life: Not too hot, not too cold. Juuuust right.

Not too far from its star, not too close. So it could contain liquid water. The planet itself is neither too big nor too small for the proper surface, gravity and atmosphere.

It’s just right. Just like Earth. “This really is the first Goldilocks planet,” said co-discoverer R. Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

The new planet sits smack in the middle of what astronomers refer to as the habitable zone, unlike any of the nearly 500 other planets astronomers have found outside our solar system. And it is in our galactic neighborhood, suggesting that plenty of Earth-like planets circle other stars.

Scientists have jumped the gun before on proclaiming that planets outside our solar system were habitable only to have them turn out to be not quite so conducive to life.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Newly Discovered Planet Corot-9b Has Earth-Like Temperatures

Do Vulcans live here? Planetary temperatures range from -20 °C to 160 °C (-68 °F to 320 °F). Steve Connor writes on the Independent:
Corot-9b

The first planet with a “temperate” climate to orbit a distant star has been discovered by astronomers, who claim that the techniques used to study it will be critical in the search for Earth-like worlds beyond our own solar system.

Corot-9b, as the planet is called, is one of more than 400 “exoplanets” found to be orbiting other stars, but it is the first one with a near-normal temperature range that can be studied as it moves across (or “transits”) the sun it orbits. “This is a normal, temperate exoplanet just like dozens we already know, but this is the first whose properties we can study in depth,” said Claire Moutou, one of the team of astronomers at the European Southern Observatory who made the discovery.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Kepler Telescope Spots ‘Styrofoam’ Planet

Rachel Courtland writes in New Scientist:

A giant planet with the density of Styrofoam is one of a clutch of new exoplanets discovered by NASA’s Kepler telescope. The planets are too hot to support life as we know it, but the discoveries, made during the telescope’s first few weeks of operation, suggest Kepler is on the right track to find Earth’s twins, researchers say.

More than 400 planets have now been found orbiting other stars, but Earth-sized planets — which may be the best habitats for life — have remained elusive.

NASA’s orbiting Kepler telescope is designed to find them. It has been scrutinising 100,000 stars since April 2009, searching for telltale dips in starlight created when planets pass in front of their host stars.

KeplerPlanets

During its first six weeks of observations, it found five new planets. All are giants — four are heavier than Jupiter and one is about as massive as Neptune.

Read the rest
Continue Reading