Monday, August 27, 2012

Discovered a planet 36 light years away could harbor life

A planet with features that make it suitable for harboring life was discovered by a group of astronomers who used a powerful telescope in Chile. He has been called HD85512b and is about 36 light-years away. Its discovery by European astronomers announced a Monday and the scientific community considers it as already known planet other than Earth most likely to contain life.

If that were the case, the beings that inhabit should withstand a high temperature, between 30 and 50 degrees, with high humidity. The planet is in the "habitable zone", the narrow strip around a star where scientists believe possible existence of liquid water on the surface. Moreover, it is a super-Earth, a planet that has between one and ten times the mass of Earth, much less than the mass of gaseous planets like Jupiter, considered inappropriate to support life.

Astronomers at the European Southern Observatory discovered it using the Harps, a telescope located at La Silla in the Atacama Desert of Chile, and was designed to detect exoplanets, ie those outside of our solar system.

HD85512b addition, astronomers discovered 49 other exoplanets, of which five have a mass that is less than five times that of Earth. "Astronomers will have to those planets in your crosshairs on them to find signs of life in its atmosphere, such as the presence of oxygen," said Francesco Pepe, Swiss Geneva Observatory, who contributed to the research.

As recalled by the science editor of the BBC, Paul Rincon, comments with Harps, installed in 2002, have also allowed astronomers to estimate the possibility that planets with a relatively small mass, like Earth, may orbit around Sun-like stars. They found that about 40% of these stars have at least one planet less massive than Saturn. The study leader Michel Mayor of the University of Geneva, said the pace of discovery is accelerating exoplanets.

"Among the planets we've discovered included an exceptionally high number of super-Earths and Neptune-like planets, orbiting a star very similar to our Sun."

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