Skip to comments.An Earth-sized planet that might hold liquid water
Posted on 07/08/2014 4:03:30 PM PDT by robowombat
An Earth-sized planet that might hold liquid water by Staff Writers Ann Arbor MI (SPX) Apr 27, 2014
An artist's conception of the newly discovered exoplanet Kepler-186f orbiting the red dwarf star Kepler-186. The planet is the first Earth-sized world to be found orbiting a star at a distance that would allow it to harbor liquid water, a necessary ingredient for life as we know it. Image courtesy NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle. In a dim and faraway solar system, astronomers have for the first time discovered a rocky, Earth-sized planet that might hold liquid water-a necessary ingredient for life as we know it.
The planet Kepler-186f is the fifth and outermost world orbiting the red dwarf Kepler-186. The slow-burning sun is smaller and cooler than our own. Too faint to be seen without a telescope, it's roughly 500 light years away in the direction of the northern constellation Cygnus (a light year is the distance light travels in a year).
Two attributes make the newfound planet special. First, it's within its star's habitable zone. That's the range of orbital distances where a planet with an atmosphere could harbor lakes, rivers or oceans that wouldn't freeze or boil away. Second, the planet is about the size of Earth. It's not big enough to accumulate a thick atmosphere of hydrogen and helium as gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn have.
"One of the most interesting questions in science is whether life can arise on other planets or, alternatively, if life on this planet is unique. The discovery of planets with Earth-like properties is one important link in the chain required to answer this question. And the discovery of the planet Kepler-186f is an important step toward finding a planet that is like our Earth," said Fred Adams, professor of physics and astronomy in the University of Michigan College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.
Adams is a part of an international team whose paper about the discovery is published in the April 18 issue of Science. He also was first author Elisa Quintana's thesis adviser when she was a graduate student at U-M. She is now an astronomer at NASA's Ames Research Center and the SETI Institute, whose mission is to search for extraterrestrial intelligence.
Over the past two decades, astronomers have found some 1,800 exoplanets in other solar systems. Only 20 orbit their stars in a habitable zone. But these are all thought to be much larger than the earth, according to a news release from the SETI Institute. The most likely candidates for habitable planets would be smaller than 1.5 times the size of Earth. The researchers were able to estimate the size of Kepler-186f by observing how the star dimmed as the planet crossed it.
Adams, a theoretical astrophysicist, helped to interpret the results gathered with NASA's Kepler telescope, which searches for Earth-like planets. Data from the space telescope gave researchers estimates of the planet's radius and how long it takes to orbit the star. The researchers found that the radius of Kepler-186f is 1.1 times the radius of Earth and that the planet's year is 130 days long.
Adams was part of the team that used the data to answer questions such as where the solar system's habitable zone is, what the planet is most likely made of and whether it could hold on to an atmosphere, for example.
"We found that this solar system does seem to be stable, it can be formed under reasonable conditions, and the planet is likely to be rocky, or Earth-like, and not gaseous," Adams said.
First author Quintana says the system may be too dim for follow-up surveys to find the composition of its atmosphere, even with next-generation telescopes.
"However, our research tells us that we should be able to find planets around bright stars that will be ideal targets to observe with James Webb," Quintana told SETI.
NASA's Webb orbiting telescope, which is still being built, will be able to directly image planets around nearby dwarf stars, and use advanced techniques to characterize their atmospheres. The SETI Institute's Allen Telescope Array has been observing the Kepler system for signs of intelligent life.
Once upon a time, in a solar system far far away...
I wonder if I’ll ever live to see close-up imagery of an earth-like body in one of the nearby systems from an earth-launched vehicle.
My guess is “no.” But I at least hope to live a long time!
I Jar Jar Binks is there, blow it up.
Only 500 light years away.
I = If
It’s so very lonely, you’re 500 light years from home.
The question is it a conservative planet?
A conservative planet, if you can keep it.
That’s the kind of talk that would get us banned from the Federation of planets...
Jar Jar’s death is worth any price to be paid.
We need to invade that planet, convert them to Christianity and hear the lamentations of their females... assuming they have females.
From the scientists who brought you “Global Warming”?
Guillermo Gonzalez, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Ball State University
From: Gonzalez, Guillermo [mailto:G^2@GCC.EDU]
Sent: Sunday, April 21, 2013 9:11 AM
To: Pizza Man
Subject: RE: “Perfect planets for life” in the galactic habitable zone?
Hi [Pizza Man],
Size of a planet and its location around a star are only two out of over a dozen factors that determine whether a planet is habitable. They don’t consider in these news articles whether the system is within the Galactic Habitable Zone.
From: Pizza Man
Sent: Sunday, April 21, 2013 12:01 PM
To: Gonzalez, Guillermo
Subject: “Perfect planets for life” in the galactic habitable zone?
Hello, Professor Gonzalez, thank you for reading my e-mail, it’s a privilege, I have a fan page http://www.sacra-pizza-man.org/privilegedPlanet.html
May I inquire, does the science behind this page http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/04/18/perfect-planets-for-life-telescope-sees-distant-worlds-not-too-hot-not-too-cold/?intcmp=features include consideration whether or not the described stellar systems are within the galactic habitable zone?
Didn’t Kryptpn circle a red sun?
Send them a message. We have open borders and our government gives away freebies. After 500 years they'll figure out a way to come visit us.
Yes, and Lex Luthor once beat him up on a red sun planet. (Superman lost his powers under a red sun, at least in the mid-1960s.)
Thanks Squawk 8888.
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