HEC_HD40307g

Super Earth exoplanet in distant star system may be in the goldilocks zone for water and life

Nov 8, 2012

Researchers looking over data from the European Souther Observatory’s HARPS planet-hunting instrument have likely found at least three more super-Earth exoplanets orbiting the orange-tined dwarf star HD 40307, which is located a cool 43 light-years away in the constellation Pictor. Previously, three had been found in orbit. This comes shortly after the news that an Earth-like planet is orbiting Alpha Centuri B.

HARPS works by finding a slight “wobble” in a sun caused by the gravitational pull of orbiting planets. The three new planets, designed as e, f and g, were found by Mikko Tuomi, leader of the UK’s University of Hertfordshire Centre for Astrophysics Research. After looking at the data, Tumoi and company believe that the super-Earth planet g is likely within a goldilocks zone; a liquid water habitable zone.

Researchers also believe the planet, which has an orbital period of 200 days, isn’t tidally-locked; that is, one side subjected constant heat and light, while the other exists in a cold and dark state.

“If the signal corresponding to HD 40307 g is a genuine Doppler signal of planetary origin, this candidate planet might be capable of supporting liquid water on its surface according to the current definition of the liquid water habitable zone around a star and is not likely to suffer from tidal locking,” writes Tuomi and his fellow researchers.

The research isn’t yet peer-reviewed and there is some doubt as to whether the three new planets actually exist. Looks like NASA will have to step up their research into that faster-than-light warp drive so we can look for other earth-like planets, since irresponsible dicks are quite intent on destroying this one for profit.

[Via Phys.org]

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