Feeds

Boffins publish SciFi story to announce exoplanet find

Brit author Alastair Reynolds explains habitable zone planets around Kapteyn's star

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Boffins from the Queen Mary University of London have chosen an unusual way to announce a new exoplanet find, commissioning a short story describing the recently-revealed worlds.

There's a paper about the find too, and a promise of more to come in a future issue of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The paper suggests “Kapteyn's star is most probably orbited by two super-Earth mass planets, one of which is orbiting in its circumstellar habitable zone”.

The paper suggests the exoplanets in the habitable zone is “the oldest potentially habitable planet known to date,” which gives us a chance to speculate about planet formation in the earlier life of the Milky Way.

The find is also notable because Kapteyn's Star is just 13 light years away, a stroll to the shops in cosmic terms.

As Reynolds's short story explains, in the voice of a human-built probe about to visit the system, the star has other interesting qualities. Here's an excerpt:

“I've dug into my background files and I understand why you sent me to Kapteyn's star. Unlike the other systems I've visited, this sun and its little family of worlds aren't part of the normal family of stars orbiting in the disc and bulge of the galaxy. This is a halo star - a member of a dispersed population of stars and star clusters, enclosing the Milky Way in a great thin sphere. It's entirely possible that these stars were not originally part of our own galaxy, but were torn free of another one after a kind of gravitational collision. And some of these stars are unmeasurably old - more ancient and venerable, perhaps, than any disc stars.

Kapteyn's star is so slow-burning, so settled, that even my instruments can't put an upper limit on its age. It could be nearly as old as the universe.

And its planets?

Just as old.”

The full short story and more information on the exoplanets is available here. ®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
Asteroid's SHOCK DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck - boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.