Astronomers Discover New Planet, Gliese 667Cc, Capable Of Sustaining Life
By Michael Billera | April 28, 2012 6:05 AM EST
Astronomers have found a new planet they believe can sustain life. Located approximately 22 light years away from Earth, Gliese 667Cc was found to be in the middle of a "Goldilocks zone," an area that is not too close to a sun or too far away where life can freeze.
Researchers from the European Southern Observatory discovered the new planet orbiting around a red dwarf star.
"It´s the Holy Grail of exo-planet research to find a planet orbiting around a star at the right distance so it´s not too close where it would lose all its water and not too far where it would freeze," Steven Vogt, an astronomer from the University of California, said, reported the Telegraph. "It´s right there in the habitable zone -- there´s no question or discussion about it. It is not on the edge. It is right in there."
The High Accuracy Radial Planetary Searcher (HARPS) telescope, which measures the radial velocity of a star, discovered Gliese 667Cc. Scientists who use the telescope analyze small movements in the a stars motion, caused by the orbit of a planet. Using the telescope, scientists determined that while it receives less light, it possibly receives the same amount of energy as Earth. This means water be found as a liquid and surface temperatures could be similar to Earth's, according to the initial report.
Scientists were first skeptical that the planet could support life because red dwarf stars are most commonly found in areas where a sun hosts a gaseous planet. However, re-analyzing the date from the European Southern observatory, astronomers discovered that Gliese 667Cc is a solid mass, approximately four and half times the size of Earth, reported the Telegraph. Gliese is also orbiting a binary star system, meaning the planet has two suns.
Unfortunately, it would take approximately 492,000 years to arrive at the planet with current technology, reported Web Pro News.
Since 1995, astronomers have discover over 763 exoplanets, but believe only four could sustain life. Exoplanets are described as planets located outside of our solar system. Some researchers believe that scientists are getting better at discovering what is beyond our solar system as technology increases.
"With the advent of new generation of instruments, researchers will be able to survey many dwarf stars for similar planets and eventually look for spectroscopic signatures of life in one of these worlds," said Guillem Anglada-Escudé, of University Göttingen, Germany, according to the Inquisitr.
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