Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New super-Earth detected within the habitable zone of a nearby cool star

Date:
February 2, 2012
Source:
Carnegie Institution
Summary:
Sientists have discovered a potentially habitable super-Earth orbiting a nearby star. The star is a member of a triple star system and has a different makeup than our Sun, being relatively lacking in metallic elements. This discovery demonstrates that habitable planets could form in a greater variety of environments than previously believed.

An artistic conception of the two planets reported on in this paper: b and c. Planet c is the one that lies in the habitable zone of the star. Planet b is too hot to be habitable.
Credit: Images courtesy of Guillem Anglada-Escudé

An international team of scientists led by Carnegie's Guillem Anglada-Escudé and Paul Butler has discovered a potentially habitable super-Earth orbiting a nearby star. The star is a member of a triple star system and has a different makeup than our Sun, being relatively lacking in metallic elements. This discovery demonstrates that habitable planets could form in a greater variety of environments than previously believed.

Their work will be published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The team used public data from the European Southern Observatory and analyzed it with a novel data analysis method. They also incorporated new measurements from the Keck Observatory's High Resolution Echelle Spectrograph and the new Carnegie Planet Finder Spectrograph at the Magellan II Telescope.

Their planet-finding technique involved measuring the small wobbles in a star's orbit in response to a planet's gravity. Anglada-Escudé and his team focused on an M-class dwarf star called GJ 667C, which is 22 light years away. It is a member of a triple-star system. The other two stars (GJ 667AB) are a pair of orange K dwarfs, with a concentration of heavy elements only 25% that of our Sun's. Such elements are the building blocks of terrestrial planets so it was thought to be unusual for metal-depleted star systems to have an abundance of low mass planets.

GJ 667C had previously been observed to have a super-Earth (GJ 667Cb) with a period of 7.2 days, although this finding was never published. This orbit is too tight, and thus hot, to support life. The new study started with the aim of obtaining the orbital parameters of this super-Earth.

But in addition to this first candidate, the research team found the clear signal of a new planet (GJ 667Cc) with an orbital period of 28.15 days and a minimum mass of 4.5 times that of Earth. The new planet receives 90% of the light that Earth receives. However, because most of its incoming light is in the infrared, a higher percentage of this incoming energy should be absorbed by the planet. When both these effects are taken into account, the planet is expected to absorb about the same amount of energy from its star that Earth absorbs from the Sun. This would allow surface temperatures similar to Earth and perhaps liquid water, but this extreme cannot be confirmed without further information on the planet's atmosphere.

"This planet is the new best candidate to support liquid water and, perhaps, life as we know it," Anglada-Escudé said.

The team notes that the system might also contain a gas-giant planet and an additional super-Earth with an orbital period of 75 days. However, further observations are needed to confirm these two possibilities. "With the advent of a new generation of instruments, researchers will be able to survey many M dwarf stars for similar planets and eventually look for spectroscopic signatures of life in one of these worlds."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Carnegie Institution. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Guillem Anglada-Escudé, Pamela Arriagada, Steven S. Vogt, Eugenio J. Rivera, R. Paul Butler, Jeffrey D. Crane, Stephen A. Shectman, Ian B. Thompson, Dante Minniti, Nader Haghighipour, Brad D. Carter, C. G. Tinney, Robert A. Wittenmyer, Jeremy A. Bailey, Simon J. O'Toole, Hugh R. A. Jones and James S. Jenkins. A planetary system around the nearby M dwarf GJ 667C with at least one super-Earth in its habitable zone. The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 2012

Cite This Page:

Carnegie Institution. "New super-Earth detected within the habitable zone of a nearby cool star." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120202151434.htm>.
Carnegie Institution. (2012, February 2). New super-Earth detected within the habitable zone of a nearby cool star. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120202151434.htm
Carnegie Institution. "New super-Earth detected within the habitable zone of a nearby cool star." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120202151434.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Earth's Near-Twin Found Orbiting Red Dwarf

Earth's Near-Twin Found Orbiting Red Dwarf

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) — The newly-discovered planet is roughly the size of Earth and could have liquid water on its surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Baby Moon 'Peggy' Spotted In Saturn's Rings

New Baby Moon 'Peggy' Spotted In Saturn's Rings

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) — A bump in the rings could be a half-mile-wide miniature moon. It was found by accident in Cassini probe images. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Americas Glimpse Total Lunar Eclipse

Americas Glimpse Total Lunar Eclipse

AFP (Apr. 15, 2014) — A total lunar eclipse, the first since December 2011, took place early Tuesday morning with the Americas getting the best glimpse. Duration: 1:19 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA Showcases Lunar Eclipse

NASA Showcases Lunar Eclipse

AP (Apr. 15, 2014) — Star gazers in parts of North and South America got a rare treat early Tuesday morning - a total eclipse of the moon. (April 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins