Latest News:  
Beijing   Sunny    2 / -9   City Forecast

People's Daily Online>>Science

Scientists find potentially habitable planet in nearby star

(Xinhua)

13:20, February 03, 2012

WASHINGTON, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- An international team of scientists has discovered a potentially habitable super-Earth orbiting a nearby star, according to a study published Thursday in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

With an orbital period of about 28 days and a minimum mass 4.5 times that of the Earth, the planet orbits within the star's " habitable zone," where temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist on the planet's surface. The researchers found evidence of at least one and possibly two or three additional planets orbiting the star, which is about 22 light-years from Earth.

The team includes University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) astronomers Steven Vogt and Eugenio Rivera and was led by Guillem Anglada-Escud and Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution for Science.

The host star is a member of a triple-star system and has a different makeup than our Sun, with a much lower abundance of elements heavier than helium, such as iron, carbon, and silicon. This discovery indicates that potentially habitable planets can occur in a greater variety of environment than previously believed.

The host star, called GJ 667C, is an M-class dwarf star. The other two stars in the triple-star system (GJ 667AB) are a pair of orange K dwarfs, with a concentration of heavy elements only 25 percent that of our Sun's. Such elements are the building blocks of terrestrial planets, so it was thought to be less likely for metal-depleted star systems to have an abundance of low-mass planets.

"This was expected to be a rather unlikely star to host planets. Yet there they are, around a very nearby, metal-poor example of the most common type of star in our galaxy," said Vogt, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UCSC. "The detection of this planet, this nearby and this soon, implies that our galaxy must be teeming with billions of potentially habitable rocky planets."

Email|Print|Comments(Editor:王莉莉)

Leave your comment0 comments

  1. Name

  

Selections for you


  1. Various lanterns displayed to greet Lantern Festival

  2. New school buses put into use in Tianchang, China's Anhui

  3. China's northern regions in grip of severe cold

  4. Folk artists perform dragon dance in Anhui

Most Popular

Opinions

  1. Chinese consumers fill big Western shoes abroad
  2. Returned migrant workers refill "empty nests"
  3. Luxury shoppers ring alarm bells
  4. Twitter critics confuse politics with business decision
  5. Japan’s actions over Diaoyu Islands will backfire
  6. A reality check on lunar new year
  7. Riding the tide of the times
  8. EP should get fully involved in EU decision making
  9. How can Europe avoid "a lost decade?"
  10. China's success here to stay

What's happening in China

Pollution costing China dear: report

  1. HK may adjust quota for mainland mothers
  2. Han Han takes fraud fight offline
  3. Mailbox windfalls baffle community
  4. Residents shocked by sadistic cat killings
  5. Xi'an keeps large dogs out of center

PD Online Data

  1. Yangge in Shaanxi
  2. Gaoqiao in Northern China
  3. The drum dance in Ansai
  4. Shehuo in Baoji City
  5. The dragon dance