Monday February 18, 2019
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A Close Planet Orbiting A Star Dubbed As ‘Super-Earth’

The researchers studied the planet by combining measurements from several high-precision instruments mounted on telescopes around the world.

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Newly discovered Super-Earth Exoplanet May Sustain Primitive Life

A frozen and dimly lit planet, dubbed a “Super-Earth,” may be orbiting the closest single star to our solar system, astronomers said Wednesday, based on two decades of scientific observations.

The planet, estimated to be at least 3.2 times more massive than Earth, was spotted circling Barnard’s Star, a type of relatively cool and low-mass star called a red dwarf. Barnard’s Star is about 6 light-years away from our solar system, comparatively close in cosmic terms, and it’s believed that the planet obits this star every 233 days.

Planets orbiting stars beyond our solar system are called exoplanets. Nearly 4,000 have been discovered. The newly discovered one is the second closest to our solar system ever found. It is thought to be a “Super-Earth,” a category of planets more massive than Earth but smaller than the large gas planets.

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This opens up the prospect that life could be possible throughout a wider range of other universes, if they exist, the researchers said. Pixabay

“After a very careful analysis, we are 99 percent confident that the planet is there,” researcher Ignasi Ribas of the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia and the Institute of Space Sciences said in a statement. “However, we’ll continue to observe this fast-moving star to exclude possible, but improbable, natural variations of the stellar brightness which could masquerade as a planet.”

Alpha Centauri

The only closer stars than Barnard’s Star are part of the triple-star system Alpha Centauri, located a bit more than 4 light-years from our solar system.

Two years ago, astronomers announced the discovery of a roughly Earth-sized planet circling Proxima Centauri, part of the Alpha Centauri system, in an orbit that might enable liquid water to exist on its surface, raising the possibility that it could harbor alien life.

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Astronomers discover ancient star formed by Big Bang, pixabay

The newly detected planet orbiting Barnard’s Star may not be so hospitable, with surface temperatures of perhaps minus 274 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 170 degrees Celsius). Barnard’s Star provides the frigid planet only 2 percent of the energy that the sun provides Earth.

Also Read: NASA’s Ralph Will Explore Jupiter’s Trojan Asteroids In 2021

The researchers studied the planet by combining measurements from several high-precision instruments mounted on telescopes around the world.

The research was published in the journal Nature. (VOA)

Next Story

NASA To Develop Lunar Landers, Reusable Systems For Astronauts To Land Moon

When we send astronauts to the moon in the next decade, it will be in a sustainable fashion.

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When we send astronauts to the moon in the next decade, it will be in a sustainable fashion. Pixabay

With its eyes set on returning humans to the moon, NASA is inviting US-based companies to help design and develop lunar landers, reusable systems for astronauts to land on the earth’s natural satellite.

“We want to get started as quickly as possible. We are inviting industry and other potential partners to meet with us next week at NASA headquarters to discuss human lunar landers,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine wrote in an op-ed at news site OZY.com on Friday.

The US space agency is planning to test new human-class landers on the moon, beginning 2024, with the goal of sending a crew to it 2028.

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The US space agency is planning to test new human-class landers on the moon, beginning 2024, with the goal of sending a crew to it 2028. Pixabay

Through multi-phased lunar exploration partnerships, NASA is asking American companies to study the best approach to landing astronauts on the moon and start the development as quickly as possible with current and future anticipated technologies.

Also Read: 2018 Fourth-hottest Year Since 1880; Earth Set to Get Warmer, Says NASA

“Building on our model in low-Earth orbit, we’ll expand our partnerships with industry and other nations to explore the moon and advance our missions to farther destinations such as Mars, with America leading the way,” Bridenstine said in a statement.

“When we send astronauts to the moon in the next decade, it will be in a sustainable fashion,” he said. (IANS)