Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
..
. 24/7 Space News .




EXO WORLDS
Two planets orbit nearby ancient star
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Jun 04, 2014


Kapteyn's star and its planets likely come from a dwarf galaxy now merged with the Milky Way. The bottom right panel shows characteristic streams of stars resulting from such a galactic merging event. Image courtesy Victor Robles, James Bullock, and Miguel Rocha at University of California Irvine and Joel Primack at University of California Santa Cruz.

An international team of astronomers, including five Carnegie scientists, reports the discovery of two new planets orbiting a very old star that is near to our own Sun. One of these planets orbits the star at the right distance to allow liquid water to exist on its surface, a key ingredient to support life. Their work is published by Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Kapteyn's Star, named after the Dutch astronomer, Jacobus Kapteyn, who discovered it at the end of the 19th century, is the second fastest-moving star in the sky and belongs to the Galactic halo, an extended group of stars orbiting our Galaxy on very elliptical orbits. With a third of the mass of the Sun, this red-dwarf can be seen with an amateur telescope in the southern constellation of Pictor.

The astronomers-including Carnegie's Pamela Arriagada, Paul Butler, Steve Shectman, Jeff Crane, and Ian Thompson-used new data from the HARPS spectrometer at the European Southern Observatory's La Silla observatory, the Planet Finding Spectrometer at the Magellan/Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, and the HIRES spectrometer at Keck Observatory in Hawaii to measure tiny periodic changes in the motion of the star. The Doppler Effect enabled the scientists to deduce some properties of these planets, including their masses and orbital periods.

"That we can make such precise measurements of such subtle effects is a real technological marvel," said Jeff Crane of the Carnegie Observatories.

"We were surprised to find planets orbiting Kapteyn's star. Previous data showed some irregular motoin so we were looking for very short period planets when the new signals showed up loud and clear," explains lead author Dr. Guillem Anglada-Escude, a former Carnegie postdoc now the Queen Mary University of London.

The planet called Kapteyn b might support water. It is at least five times the mass of that of Earth and orbits its star every 48 days. This means the planet is warm enough for water to be present on its surface. The second planet, Kapteyn c is a more massive super-Earth in comparision.

Its year lasts for 121 days and astronomers think it's too cold to support liquid water. At the moment, only a few properties of the planets are known: approximate masses, orbital periods, and the distances from their host star. By measuring their atmospheres using instruments that are currently under development, astronomers will verify the presence or lack of water.

"Finding a stable planetary system with a potentially habitable planet orbiting one of the very nearest stars in the sky is mind blowing. This is one more piece of evidence that nearly all stars have planets, and that potentially habitable planets in our Galaxy are as common as grains of sand on a beach," said Pamela Arriagada, the second author, and a Carnegie postdoctoral researcher.

The planetary systems detected by NASA's Kepler mission are usually hundreds of light years away. In contrast, Kapteyn's Star is the 25th nearest star to the Sun-only 13 light years away from Earth.

What makes this discovery special, however, is the peculiar story of the star. Kapteyn's Star is thought to have been born in a dwarf Galaxy that was long ago disrupted and absorbed by the Milky Way. This galactic cannibalization set the star on a new path, making it part of the Milky Way's halo.

The likely remnant core of the original dwarf galaxy is Omega Centauri, an enigmatic group of stars 16,000 light years from Earth that contains hundreds of thousands of similarly old suns and was long thought to be a globular cluster.

This sets the most likely age of Kapteyn's Star and its planets at 11.5 billion years, which is 2.5 times older than Earth and "only" 2 billion years younger than the Universe itself (which has been measured to be 13.7 billion years old).

Dr Anglada-Escude adds: "It does make you wonder what kind of life could have evolved on those planets over such a long time."

.


Related Links
Carnegie Institution
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




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





EXO WORLDS
'Neapolitan' exoplanets come in three flavors
Boston MA (SPX) Jun 03, 2014
The planets of our solar system come in two basic flavors, like vanilla and chocolate ice cream. We have small, rocky terrestrials like Earth and Mars, and large gas giants like Neptune and Jupiter. We're missing the astronomical equivalent of strawberry ice cream - planets between about one and four times the size of Earth. NASA's Kepler mission has discovered that these types of planets are ve ... read more


EXO WORLDS
New evidence supporting moon formation via collision of 2 planets

NASA Missions Let Scientists See Moon's Dancing Tide From Orbit

Earth's gravitational pull stretches moon surface

Water in moon rocks provides clues and questions about lunar history

EXO WORLDS
NASA Should Maintain Long-Term Focus on Mars as "Horizon Goal"

NASA could not deliver humans to Mars

Big Brother creators to document Mars One mission

NASA's human spaceflight program doomed to fail: study

EXO WORLDS
NASA And Virgin Galactic Select Payloads For First Research Flight

US may lose 'star wars' to Russia

NASA Invites Universities to Submit Innovative Technology Proposals

One docking ring to rule them all

EXO WORLDS
Chinese lunar rover alive but weak

China's Jade Rabbit moon rover 'alive but struggling'

Chinese space team survives on worm diet for 105 days

Moon rover Yutu comes closer to public

EXO WORLDS
Russia, US resume talks on new joint projects for ISS

Russian Soyuz with New Crew Docks at ISS in Automatic Mode

Russian, German and US astronauts dock with ISS

Six-Person Station Crew Enjoys Day Off Following Docking

EXO WORLDS
Next ATV transferred to Final Assembly Building at Kourou

Roscosmos Scolded for 'Pestering Society' with Proton Crash Theories

SpaceX unveils capsule to ferry astronauts to space

Elon Musk to present manned DragonV2 spacecraft on May 29

EXO WORLDS
Two planets orbit nearby ancient star

First light for SPHERE exoplanet imager

Astronomers Confounded By Massive Rocky World

Astronomers find a new type of planet: The 'mega-Earth'

EXO WORLDS
Raytheon selected to demonstrate next generation, modular radar system

Analyzing Resistance to Impacts and Improving Armor Plating

Intel's gesture control promises hands-free life at Taiwan show

A new way to make laser-like beams using 250x less power




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - 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. 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 All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.