Researchers find new ‘Super Earth’ that is only 42 light years away

Researchers find new ‘Super Earth’ that is only 42 light years away

Lima : Chile | Nov 09, 2012 at 12:51 PM PST
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It’s true when they say there’s no place like home, especially when that home appears to be the only one in the vast void that is space. The planet earth is singularly unique in that it has the perfect conditions to support life and is the only known planet in the known universe to support life. Of course, scientists and astronomers are constantly on the hunt for other planets in space that may boast the same conditions as earth’s and maybe even have some form of life.

The latest discovery in this regard has found a planet, well-settled in the “Goldilocks” or habitable zone, being neither too far or too near to its sun and according to researchers is a “Super Earth” being several times larger.

According to researchers working with the Rocky Planets Around Cool Stars (Ropacs) network, the star HD 40307 was initially found to have three planets revolving around it, all out of the habitable zone. But in later observations, using the Harps instrument at the European Southern Observatory's La Silla facility in Chile, they were able to detect three more around the star, and one in particular, HD 40307g, was found to be in the Goldilocks zone, suggesting that it could possibly have water and an atmosphere.

Detailing their work, in research that will be published in the journal, Astronomy and Astrophysics, the researchers said that the exo-planet HD 40307 is some several times larger than earth, putting it into the category of “Super Earths,” and has an orbit of about 200 earth days. The star of the system, HD 40307, is unlike our very own in that it is both smaller and cooler and emits an orange light. The most promising fact about the discovery is that the HD 40307 solar system is only 42 light years away from earth, putting it at a reasonably traversable distance.

Speaking about the research, University of Hertfordshire researcher and lead author of the paper Mikko Tuomi said, "We pioneered new data analysis techniques including the use of the wavelength as a filter to reduce the influence of activity on the signal from this star. This significantly increased our sensitivity and enabled us to reveal three new super-Earth planets around the star known as HD 40307, making it into a six-planet system."

The researchers have said that they will need to conduct further observations of the planet to get a better idea of just what it has to offer and will be employing space-based telescopes to get a better picture of HD 40307.

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Super Earth found 42 light years away
This artist's impression shows a sunset seen from the super-Earth Gliese 667 Cc. Credit: Reuters/ESO/L. Calçada/Handout
arkar is based in Seattle, Washington, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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