Astronomers dis­cover 60 new worlds, find 'su­per Earth'

Sun.Star Pampanga - - SCIENCE! -

AThe ex­perts also found ev­i­dence of an ad­di­tional 54 plan­ets, bring­ing the po­ten­tial dis­cov­ery of new worlds to 114.

One planet in par­tic­u­lar, Gliese 411b, has been gen­er­at­ing plenty of at­ten­tion. De­scribed as a “hot su­per Earth with a rocky sur­face,” Gliese 411b is lo­cated in the fourth-near­est star sys­tem to the Sun, mak­ing it the third-near­est plan­e­tary sys­tem to the Sun, ac­cord­ing to the U.K.’s Uni­ver­sity of Hert­ford­shire, which par­tic­i­pated in the re­search. Gliese 411b (also known as GJ 411b or La­lande 21185) or­bits the star Gliese 411 (or GJ 411) .

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De­spite the “su­per Earth” la­bel, Dr. Mikko Tuomi from Uni­ver­sity of Hert­ford­shire’s Cen­tre for As­tro­physics told Fox News that Gliese 411b is too hot for life to ex­ist on its sur­face.

Gliese 411 and Gliese 411b are lo­cated 8 light years from earth. A light year, which mea­sures dis­tance in space, equals 6 tril­lion miles.

By way of com­par­i­son, the re­cently-dis­cov­ered Earth-like planet Prox­ima b, which or­bits the red dwarf Prox­ima Cen­tauri, is about 4 light years from Earth. A red dwarf is a rel­a­tively cool small star.

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Tuomi, who was also in­volved in the dis­cov­ery of Prox­ima b, told Fox News that the lat­est batch of plan­ets marks a sig­nif­i­cant dis­cov­ery. “Over the re­cent years it has been es­tab­lished as a sci­en­tific fact that there are more plan­ets in the Uni­verse than there are stars. This means that vir­tu­ally ev­ery star has a planet, or sev­eral of them, or­bit­ing it,” he ex­plained, via email. “Our dis­cov­ery of dozens of new nearby plan­ets high­lights this fact. But it also does more. We are now mov­ing on from sim­ply dis­cov­er­ing these worlds.”

“In essence, we are now build­ing an ob­ser­va­tional roadmap for fu­ture gi­ant tele­scopes that can be used to im­age some or even most of these newly found worlds,” Tuomi added. “This is like map­ping an ar­chi­pel­ago so that we are fa­mil­iar with it in the fu­ture when tak­ing a closer look at what its is­lands ac­tu­ally look l i k e.”

The 60 new plan­ets are found or­bit­ing stars that are mostly some 20 to 300 light years away, ac­cord­ing to Tu o m i .

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The dis­cov­er­ies are based on ob­ser­va­tions taken over 20 years by U.S. astronomers us­ing the Keck-I te­le­scope in Hawaii as part of the Lick­Carnegie Ex­o­planet Sur­vey. Dur­ing the course of the re­search, sci­en­tists ob­tained al­most 61,000 ob­ser­va­tions of 1,600 stars, which are now avail­able to the public.

Spon­sored by NASA and the National Sci­ence Foun­da­tion, the Lick-Carnegie Ex­o­planet Sur­vey har­nesses the tal­ents of planet hunters from a num­ber of or­ga­ni­za­tions, in­clud­ing the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia (UC) Santa Cruz and the Carnegie In­sti­tu­tion for Sci­ence in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

The Carnegie In­sti­tu­tion of Sci­ence also led a team that in­cluded MIT to re­lease the data on the al­most 61,000 ob­ser­va­tions of 1,600 stars.

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