Feeds

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

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

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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.

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'
NOT best position for scientific fulfillment
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rocking boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
LIFE, JIM? Comet probot lander found 'ORGANICS' on far-off iceball
That's it for God, then – if Comet 67P has got complex molecules
'Yes, yes... YES!' Philae lands on COMET 67P
Plucky probot aces landing on high-speed space rock - emotional scenes in Darmstadt
THERE it is! Philae comet lander FOUND in EXISTING Rosetta PICS
Crumb? Pixel? ALIEN? Better, it's a comet-catcher!
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
The hidden costs of self-signed SSL certificates
Exploring the true TCO for self-signed SSL certificates, including a side-by-side comparison of a self-signed architecture versus working with a third-party SSL vendor.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.