Feeds

Boffins find ALIEN WORLD orbiting the Sun's LONG LOST TWIN

Could there be LIFE as well? Maybe, maybe not...

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Boffins have located an alien world orbiting a solar twin to our own Sun for the first time.

Artist's impression of an exoplanet orbiting a star in the cluster Messier 67

Astronomers using the European Southern Observatory's HARPS planet hunter in Chile and other telescopes around the world have found three such planets in the star cluster Messier 67.

Although a thousand exoplanets have been confirmed, only a handful have been seen in star clusters. Even rarer is that one of the worlds is orbiting a star that is almost identical to the Sun.

Researchers have been carefully monitoring Messier 67 over the last six years to look for the tiny motions of stars towards and away from the Earth that would reveal the presence of planets in the system. They're trying to figure out if there's something different about planet formation in clusters that would explain why so few worlds have been spotted in them.

“In the Messier 67 star cluster the stars are all about the same age and composition as the Sun. This makes it a perfect laboratory to study how many planets form in such a crowded environment, and whether they form mostly around more massive or less massive stars,” said Anna Brucalassi of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany.

The cluster lies around 2,500 light-years away in the Cancer constellation and contains around 500 stars. Many of the cluster's stars are fainter than those normally targeted for exoplanet searches, making it much more difficult to detect the signs of alien worlds.

But HARPS and the other scopes managed to pick up the signatures of three planets, two of which are around a third of the mass of Jupiter and orbit stars similar to the Sun in seven and five days respectively. The third world is bigger than Jupiter and takes 122 days to get around its host star.

One of the Sunlike stars is the first solar twin in a cluster that has been found to have a planet, though, unfortunately, it's far too close to its host for any liquid water to exist there.

"These new results show that planets in open star clusters are about as common as they are around isolated stars — but they are not easy to detect,” said ESO's Luca Pasquini, co-author of the new paper. “We are continuing to observe this cluster to find how stars with and without planets differ in mass and chemical makeup.”

The findings were detailed in "Three planetary companions around M67 stars" to be published in Astronomy & Astrophysics and available here.

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
Cutting cancer rates: Data, models and a happy ending?
How surgery might be making cancer prognoses worse
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Brit balloon bod Bodnar overflies North Pole
B-64 amateur ultralight payload approaching second circumnavigation
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?