Research

Four Earth-sized planets detected orbiting the nearest sun-like star

Four Earth-sized planets detected orbiting the nearest sun-like star

The team, led by researchers at the University of Hertfordshire, discovered the "Super Earths" orbiting the Tau Ceti solar system right within the habitable corridor known as the "goldilocks zone".

The team of researchers built on research they had done in 2013 and detected the planets by examining the wobbles of the sun-like star, tau Ceti, that the planets orbit.

Researchers led by Fabo Feng from the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom detected the four exoplanets by registering extremely slight wobbles in Tau Ceti's movement, due to the gravitational pull of smaller astronomical bodies. In 2012, astronomers announced they'd found evidence for five planets between two and seven times the mass of the Earth, using the so-called radial velocity or "wobble" method, which measures the gravitational tug a planet exerts on its star.

According to lead author Fabo Feng of the University of Hertfordshire, UK, the researchers are getting tantalizingly close to the 10-centimeter-per-second limit required for detecting Earth analogs.

Sun-like stars like our own are, for obvious reasons, considered our best hope of finding habitable life throughout the rest of the galaxy.

Download the News Nation Mobile App and stay connected with top stories from India and around the world. Much larger stars than the sun tend to be more unstable, releasing radiation and pulsing novae of heat that would make the development of life on a planet over millions of years impossible. However, a dense debris disk surrounding tau Ceti likely sees the four planets constantly bombarded by asteroids.

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Police cordoned off the scene and told commuters to avoid the area after the crash at about 7am on Thursday. It may worry you that much of our mainstream press is increasingly reporting with a strong right-wing bias.

Tau Ceti is very similar to the Sun in its size and brightness, and both stars host multi-planet systems. 'Since then we've painstakingly improved the sensitivity of our techniques and could rule out two of the signals our team identified in 2013 as planets. And, as before, the claim that tau Ceti e and f might reside in the habitable zone is already being contested. One in orbit at the internal border and the other on the outside. "We are slowly learning to tell the difference between wobbles caused by planets and those caused by stellar active surface".

Meanwhile astronomers from Nasa using a telescope operated by Liverpool John Moores University discovered seven planets which are similar in size to Earth, rocky and probably have oceans.

"But no matter how we look at the star, there seems to be at least four rocky planets orbiting it", Dr Tuomi said. "This enabled us to essentially verify the existence of the two outer, potentially habitable planets in the system", said Mikko Tuomi from the University of Hertfordshire.

"The planets in the habitable zone around nearby dwarf stars, like Proxima Centauri or TRAPPIST-1, are exposed to strong stellar winds that could strip their atmospheres", Loeb said.

The astronomers analyzed data on the wavelength of star light received from the European southern Observatory in Chile and the Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea, Hawaii.


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