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Saturday, June 16, 2012

The exoplanet "closest" to the Earth


The Kepler space mission has exposed the exoplanet, closet to the Earthlike identified so far. Dub Kepler 10b, the planet is unstable (solid) smaller than those found, since the diameter is the same to just 1.4 times the Earth, while its mass is 4.6 times that of Earth.
In attendance can be no illusions, however, about the possibility of life existing in it, because although Kepler 10b orbits a star (Kepler 10) very similar to our Sun, its distance to it is twenty times less than separating the sun Mercury.
This means that the average temperature on the surface of that exoplanet is higher than 1600 degrees Celsius. And its speed is dizzying as they complete a lap around its star every 0.84 days.
The discovery, announced the recent past by the U.S. Space Agency at the American Astronomical Society, held this week in Seattle (Washington), and collected on its website, will be published in a comprehensive report by the prestigious Astrophysical Journal.
Exterior the "habitable zone"
Kepler 10b is clearly outside of what scientists call the "habitable zone" where it would be possible to develop some form of life as we know it. Y consists essentially of a mixture of lava rocks and, since at that temperature elements such as iron are liquid. Not only is just next door, since it is in the constellation Cygnus, about 560 light years away. The discovery of Kepler probe means in fact that 560 years ago an exoplanet of the aforementioned characteristics orbited the star Kepler 10. The logic is still there, since that period of time is almost negligible in the scale of the universe.
It has been discovered by the "transit method", ie by measuring the fluctuations experienced by the brightness of its star, Kepler 10, both in intensity and time, every time the planet passes between it and the detector probe.
No one have see an exoplanet
It's that thrill of the stars for discovering planets around them. No one has seen or will see an exoplanet. The bodies, including celestial, can only be seen by the light they emit or reflect. And at that distance there is no telescope that captures. Your simple search is equivalent to finding a flea from migrating by the beam of the headlights.
But the tools and models developed by astrophysicists have reached such a level of reliability that can not only find those planets without seeing them, but also determine its mass and position, and therefore its composition and the movements they describe.
The crazy contest for living
The Kepler space mission, NASA, competes in the search for exoplanets with the mission Corot, European Space Agency, and ESA. And it's a mad race for life in the universe. As tough and competitive as that kept Amundsen and Scott to conquer the South Pole, or Livingston and Stanley to find the sources of the Nile The ESA announced in May 2009 the discovery of an exoplanet, the Corot 7b, presented as the smallest found so far, its diameter is 1.7 times that of Earth, possibly rocky, and with a temperature close to two thousand degrees. Life is impossible.
In late September, astronomers from the Universities of Carolina and Santa Cruz presented the discovery of the exoplanet Gliese 581g, then announced as "the most similar to Earth ... which could have liquid water.” Nothing has been found on him, and the scientific establishment still debated whether it is a mistake. Whether not there.
Be active possible
Until today there are more than 550 exoplanets discovered since its existence was confirmed in 1995. The vast majority of them are gas giants Jupiter and Saturn type. Too cold. Too hot. All of them, outside the "habitable zone". Impossible the existence of water. But the simple law of averages suggests that among the billions of billions of billions of stars in the universe must be many, why not millions, of planets inhabited by some form of life ... Or maybe not. Kepler and Corot missions still looking.

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