Feeds

Planetary data merge shows three Earth-like planets in close star system

Only 22 light years away... Pack your bags!

High performance access to file storage

Astronomers are spending more and more time looking for planets in the "Goldilocks Zone," meaning those orbiting at just the right distance from a sun that it's neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water. Now they've found three orbiting a single star that's not too far away in galactic terms.

The Gliese 667C star, found 22 light years from Earth, had been thought to harbor one such Earth-like planet. But a new analysis using data from the European Southern Observatory, the W. M. Keck Observatory, and the Magellan Telescope has found three, with another four planets within the sun's orbital plane.

"We knew that the star had three planets from previous studies, so we wanted to see whether there were any more," said Mikko Tuomi of the University of Hertfordshire, who also led the team.

"By adding some new observations and revisiting existing data we were able to confirm these three and confidently reveal several more. Finding three low-mass planets in the star's habitable zone is very exciting!"

Gliese 667C is much dimmer than our own sun, and so the Goldilocks Zone is much closer to the star than it is in this Solar System. The three planets are thought to have years of between 20 and 100 days and up to ten times the mass of our home planet.

"The close proximity of these planets in the habitable zone to the host star makes it likely they are 'tidally locked,' which in this case means the same hemisphere always faces the star," said University of Washington astronomer Rory Barnes.

"Fortunately, we know that this state can still support life. These planets are good candidates to have a solid surface and maybe an atmosphere like the Earth's, not something like Jupiter."

Barnes said that the data from the combined study shows that there may be many more Earth-like planets than first thought, and he said further examinations of existing data could reveal new candidates for places the human race could one day call home. ®

High performance access to file storage

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

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.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.