Feeds

Earth-like planets abound in red dwarf systems

Slow-burning stars may host civilizations far more advanced than our own

Top three mobile application threats

The nearest Earth-like planet that could support liquid water may be much closer than first believed, according to new research by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

"We thought we would have to search vast distances to find an Earth-like planet," said Harvard astronomer and lead author Courtney Dressing in a statement. "Now we realize another Earth is probably in our own backyard, waiting to be spotted."

The team analyzed data from NASA's Kepler space telescope to look at red dwarf stars, slow-growing solar furnaces that make up around three-quarters of the stars in our galaxy. These have been considered poor candidates for Earth-like planets, but the team found 6 per cent of red dwarfs could harbor conditions for life as we know it.

With at least 75 billion available red dwarfs, that adds up to a lot of planets suitable for life. And based on this simple survey, Dressing found 95 suitable planets, three of which being a similar size to Earth and warm enough for liquid water, with the nearest just 13 light years away.

Because red dwarfs are long-lived, slow-burning stars, some of the Earth-like planets found could be significantly older than our own. If the pattern of life has taken a similar course, this could lead to civilizations much more advanced than our own. "We might find an Earth that's 10 billion years old," speculated coauthor David Charbonneau.

But there's a world of difference (pun unintended) between finding a planet that's well-positioned to support humanity and analysis of its atmosphere to find out if it really could. It may be unlikely that we'll find planets out there that could support unaided humans, but given a closer examination by instruments such as the Giant Magellan Telescope and James Webb Space Telescope, who knows? ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
KILLER ROBOTS, DNA TAMPERING and PEEPING CYBORGS: the future looks bright!
Americans optimistic about technology despite being afraid of EVERYTHING
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.