Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



EXO WORLDS
Nearby star hosts closest alien planet in the 'habitable zone'
by Staff Writers
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Dec 19, 2015


This is the sky area in the constellation of Ophiucus near the red dwarf star Wolf 1061 which includes the impressive, but unrelated, star cluster Messier 104. Wolf 1061 is 14 light years away.

UNSW Australia astronomers have discovered the closest potentially habitable planet found outside our solar system so far, orbiting a star just 14 light years away. The planet, more than four times the mass of the Earth, is one of three that the team detected around a red dwarf star called Wolf 1061.

"It is a particularly exciting find because all three planets are of low enough mass to be potentially rocky and have a solid surface, and the middle planet, Wolf 1061c, sits within the 'Goldilocks' zone where it might be possible for liquid water - and maybe even life - to exist," says lead study author UNSW's Dr Duncan Wright.

"It is fascinating to look out at the vastness of space and think a star so very close to us - a near neighbour - could host a habitable planet.

"While a few other planets have been found that orbit stars closer to us than Wolf 1061, those planets are not considered to be remotely habitable," Dr Wright says.

The three newly detected planets orbit the small, relatively cool and stable star about every 5, 18 and 67 days. Their masses are at least 1.4, 4.3 and 5.2 times that of Earth, respectively.

The larger outer planet falls just outside the outer boundary of the habitable zone and is also likely to be rocky, while the smaller inner planet is too close to the star to be habitable.

The discovery will be published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The UNSW team made the discovery using observations of Wolf 1061 collected by the HARPS spectrograph on the European Southern Observatory's 3.6 metre telescope in La Silla in Chile.

"Our team has developed a new technique that improves the analysis of the data from this precise, purpose-built, planet-hunting instrument, and we have studied more than a decade's worth of observations of Wolf 1061," says Professor Chris Tinney, head of the Exoplanetary Science at UNSW group.

"These three planets right next door to us join the small but growing ranks of potentially habitable rocky worlds orbiting nearby stars cooler than our Sun."

Small rocky planets like our own are now known to be abundant in our galaxy, and multi-planet systems also appear to be common. However most of the rocky exoplanets discovered so far are hundreds or thousands of light years away.

An exception is Gliese 667Cc which lies 22 light years from Earth. It orbits a red dwarf star every 28 days and is at least 4.5 times as massive as Earth.

"The close proximity of the planets around Wolf 1061 means there is a good chance these planets may pass across the face of the star. If they do, then it may be possible to study the atmospheres of these planets in future to see whether they would be conducive to life," says team member UNSW's Dr Rob Wittenmyer.


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

.


Related Links
University of New South Wales
Lands Beyond Beyond - extra solar planets - news and science
Life Beyond Earth






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
EXO WORLDS
ALMA reveals planetary construction sites
Munich, Germany (SPX) Dec 19, 2015
Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have found the clearest indications yet that planets with masses several times that of Jupiter have recently formed in the discs of gas and dust around four young stars. Measurements of the gas around the stars also provide additional clues about the properties of those planets. Planets are found around nearly every ... read more


EXO WORLDS
XPRIZE verifies moon express launch contract, kicking off new space race

Gaia's sensors scan a lunar transit

SwRI scientists explain why moon rocks contain fewer volatiles than Earth's

All-female Russian crew starts Moon mission test

EXO WORLDS
Study finds evidence for more recent clay formation on Mars

New Mars rover findings revealed at American Geophysical Union Conference

Opportunity performs a week of robotic arm at Marathon Valley

Rocks Rich in Silica Present Puzzles for Mars Rover Team

EXO WORLDS
Researchers Recall Work on First Rendezvous in Space

NASA Accepting Applications for Future Explorers

China drives global patent applications to new high

Australia seeks 'ideas boom' with tax breaks, visa boosts

EXO WORLDS
Agreement with Chinese Space Tech Lab Will Advance Exploration Goals

China launches new communication satellite

China's indigenous SatNav performing well after tests

China launches Yaogan-29 remote sensing satellite

EXO WORLDS
British astronaut docks with ISS as country cheers debut trip

NASA spacewalk to fix ISS rail car

Unscheduled spacewalk likely on Monday

First Briton to travel to ISS blasts off into space

EXO WORLDS
Scientists Launch NASA Rocket into "Speed Bumps" Above Norway

NASA orders second Boeing Crew Mission to ISS

O3b signs agreement with Arianespace for a fourth Soyuz launch

Soyuz receives the Galileo payload for its December 17 liftoff

EXO WORLDS
Monster planet is 'dancing with the stars'

Exoplanets Water Mystery Solved

Nearby star hosts closest alien planet in the 'habitable zone'

ALMA reveals planetary construction sites

EXO WORLDS
Physics of slow microscopic changes in magnetic structures revealed

New metamaterial manipulates sound to improve acoustic imaging

Satellite's Last Days Improve Orbital Decay Predictions

Israel's Amos-5 Satellite Failure Caused by Power Supply Malfunction




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement