Scientists find 2 potentially habitable Super-Earth’s just 12 light years away

Another revolutionary discovery has been made as experts have spotted two super Earth’s orbiting a sun-like Star that is so close to our solar system, we can observe it with the naked eye.

Two potentially habitable “super-Earths” (e&f) have been discovered in the ‘goldilocks zone’ around the star Tau Ceti (Illustration courtesy of Fabo Feng)

Astronomers have found the two potentially habitable super Earth’s orbiting the nearest sun-like star ‘tau Ceti.’

The international group of astronomers discovered the planets in a solar system with a star eerily similar to our sun. The two potentially habitable worlds orbit their star in the habitable zone, meaning that they could support liquid water on their surface, and even possibly life.

Within the “habitable” or “Goldilocks zone” planets have temperatures which are neither hoot nor too cold to host water in a liquid form. Planets orbiting their star in habitable zones have high chances of having rivers, lakes and even oceans.

Artistic representation of Tau Ceti e.

Experts note. However, tau Ceti E and F are located on the ‘edges’ of their star’s habitable zone. One of the alien worlds orbits the inner border of the zone, while the other planet orbits the outer border. The Earth in comparison is located halfway between the middle of the sun’s habitable zone and its inner boundary—a nearly perfect sweet spot.

Image credit: Wikipedia user Till Credner’s own work: via AlltheSky.com.

British astronomers believe how the two planets could be future candidates for interstellar colonization, of course when we actually develop the technology and means to travel 12 light-years in our life time.

This study is a follow-up search in tau Ceti, as scientists in the past have discovered five planets orbiting the Sun-like star, and labeled them tau Ceti B to F.

The new research confirmed the existence of tau Ceti E and F and spotted two new planets dubbed as tau Ceti G and H.

However, scientists say that three planets—tau Ceti B, C, and D were not detected in the latest set of data.

The four currently identified alien worlds have masses as low as 1.7 Earth mass, which according to experts makes the some of the smallest alien planets ever detected around stars similar to our sun.

In previous searches, astronomers had concluded how planets E and F were simply too massive to be rocky—and were therefore unlikely to have an atmosphere necessary to host life.

The new study, however, has found that planets E and F have a mass 3.9 times that of Earth, which means that they are excellent candidates for life after all.

However, experts warn how the two potentially habitable planets are surrounded by a massive debris disc orbiting the two alien worlds which mean there are big chances that both planets are constantly impacted by asteroids and comets.

The alien worlds around tau Ceti were discovered after astronomers observed ‘wobbles’ in the movement of tau Ceti, provoked by its orbiting planets.

The lead researcher of the study, Dr. Fabo Feng, from the University of Hertfordshire, said: “We’re getting tantalizingly close to seeing the correct limits needed for detecting Earth-like planets. Our detection of such weak wobbles is a milestone in the search for Earth-like worlds and the understanding of the Earth’s habitability by comparison with these.”


Source: Color difference makes a difference: four planet candidates around tau Ceti

Further reading material: PHL-UPR.edu

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