Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Chile Space Planet: Astronomers Have Discovered Yet Another Planet Aroun...

Astronomers have found an exoplanet orbiting a red dwarf star some 40 light years away, bolstering the prospect of discovering life beyond Earth, according to a statement from the European Southern Observatory issued on April 19.

Astronomers are calling the exoplanet, known as LHS 1140b, a "super-Earth". It orbits a habitable area located around a faint red dwarf star, named LHS 1140, in the constellation of Cetus (The Sea Monster), a news release published by the European Southern Observatory in Chile stated. Red dwarf stars are much smaller and cooler than the Sun. Although LHS 1140b is ten times closer to this star than the Earth is to the Sun, "it only receives about half as much sunlight from its star as the Earth and lies in the middle of the habitable zone," according to ESO's news release.

Researchers said that the exoplanet passes in front of the star once per orbit and it blocks a little of its light every 25 days.The ESO also said that the exoplanet could contain water. The ESO statement explained that a magma ocean could have existed on LHS 1140b which could have fed steam into the atmosphere which may have replenished water.

Astronomers estimate the exoplanet - probably made of rock with a dense iron core - is at least five billion years old, with a diameter 1.4 times larger than the Earth. The discovery makes the exoplanet one of the most exciting future targets for atmospheric studies, the release stated. The discovery was made using the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher or HARPS, a telescope at La Silla observatory in Chile.

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