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Super Earth Capable Of Supporting Life, Scientists Claim

15 February 2017, 8:30 am EST By Kalyan Kumar Tech Times
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Why haven't we found alien life?
A survey of planets outside the Earth’s solar system has found 60 new planets and 54 potential planets, according to results of a Lick-Carnegie Exoplanet Survey. It claimed that at least one planet is like Earth and may support life.   ( ESO )

There is a super-Earth existing outside the solar system near our planet. This must be good news when efforts are underway to colonize Mars.

This was revealed in the Lick-Carnegie Exoplanet Survey by a team of international scientists. It was led by astronomers Steve Vogt, Geoffrey Marcy from the University of California, and Carnegie Institute of Science's Paul Butler at Washington.

The team discovered 60 new planets and 54 potential planets outside the solar system making a total of 114 new planets.

According to the scientists, many of these planets are Earth-like and can support life. The study will be published in The Astrophysical Journal.

Super-Earth Gliese 411-B

The hot "super-Earth" named Gliese 411-b is an exoplanet with a rocky surface and the fourth nearest to the solar system.

The premise of super-Earth supporting life is based on the fact that planets were found orbiting all stars near the sun. So, it is normal to expect Earth-like conditions supporting alien life might be present.

The survey results were derived from an average 60,000 observations of 1,600 stars, which the team tracked for more than 20-years, with the help of Hawaii's Keck-I telescope.

 "This paper and data release is one of my crowning achievements as an astronomer and represents a good chunk of my life's work," Butler, one of the research leaders said.

The newly discovered planets would enhance the understanding of the processes in planetary formations and help in future efforts for imaging planets directly, according to the researchers.

Research Methodology

Lick-Carnegie survey has made a commendable contribution in increasing scientists' understanding of planets in the last two decades by tracking movements of nearby stars and the effect of orbiting planets.

One of the researchers, Dr. Mikko Tuomi, noted that Keck-I telescope has been a wonderful tool in proving that all stars have orbiting planets.

"These new discoveries will further help us characterize the population of planets in the immediate solar neighborhood," he added.

The methodology of the research involved measuring periodic changes in the colors of target stars that indicated the existence of planets.

Using iodine cell radial velocity technique, they monitored the signatures of planets by using iodine lines as a reference point that stays static with lines of the star responding to the planets that are orbiting.

Life Detection Technology

Meanwhile, NASA developed a new technology for detecting signs of life beyond earth and claimed it was far more effective than the ones used by spaceship Mars Curiosity rover.

In a paper published "Enhanced Resolution of Chiral Amino Acids with Capillary Electrophoresis for Biosignature Detection in Extraterrestrial Samples," a NASA researcher suggested "laser-provoked fluorescence recognition" by blazing a laser through a mixture of organic molecules to identify amino acids, which are the building blocks of all life.

Also, in detecting a distant planet's habitability, NASA has developed a new model. Based on that yardstick, the newly discovered exoplanet Proxima Centauri b is not habitable.

Proxima Centauri b was discovered in August 2016 as an Earth-sized planet with hints that water was present. However, a new research by NASA suggests Proxima Centauri b is a dead world because of the violence by its host star. Though in the Goldilocks zone, a region around a star where it is "not too hot, not too cold," stellar eruptions from the star can beam charged particles into the atmosphere and destroy water-producing ingredients.

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