Super Earth Found in Space

0

Written on 12:23 PM by Sarthak K

Astronomers have found the most Earth-like planet outside our Solar System to date, a world which could have water running on its surface. The planet orbits the faint star Gliese 581, which is 20.5 light-years away in the constellation Libra. Scientists made the discovery using the Eso 3.6m Telescope in Chile.

They say the benign temperatures on the planet mean any water there could exist in liquid form, and this raises the chances it could also harbour life.

"We have estimated that the mean temperature of this 'super-Earth' lies between 0 and 40 degrees Celsius, and water would thus be liquid," explained Stephane Udry of the Geneva Observatory, lead author of the scientific paper reporting the result.



This exoplanet - as astronomers call planets around a star other than the Sun – is the smallest ever found up to now and it completes a full orbit in 13 days. It is 14 times closer to its star than the Earth is from the Sun. However, given that its host star, the red dwarf Gliese 581, is smaller and colder than the Sun – and thus less luminous – the planet nevertheless lies in the habitable zone, the region around a star where water could be liquid!

"Liquid water is critical to life as we know it," said Xavier Delfosse, a team member from France's Grenoble University.

"Because of its temperature and relative proximity, this planet will most probably be a very important target of the future space missions dedicated to the search for extra terrestrial life.

He added: "On the treasure map of the Universe, one would be tempted to mark this planet with an X."

In 1995, two astronomers, also at Geneva, spotted the first extrasolar planet, a term for a planet orbiting a star other than our own. Since then, 227 such planets have been spotted, according to the Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia (http://exoplanet.eu/).

Gliese 581 is among the 100 closest stars to us. Its "red dwarf" monicker comes from the fact that it is only one-third of the mass of the Sun.

If you enjoyed this post Subscribe to our feed

No Comment

Post a Comment