Thursday, 14 December, 2017

Super-Earth Discovers Sign of Extraterrestrial life

U of T researcher finds Earth-like conditions in little-known exoplanet – and discovers a new planet Scientists Discover Super Earth With Icy Rocks 111 Light Years Away
Velma Reese | 07 December, 2017, 04:34

The faraway exoplanet, which is known as K2-18b, could be a scaled-up version of Earth.

K2-18b's newly found super-Earth status comes after a slew of other recent, rocky planet-related discoveries.

The so-called super-Earth, a classification of planets named for being about two to four times bigger than our planet, was discovered by a team of astronomers.

This artist's concept shows two super-Earth exoplanets, K2-18b and c, orbiting the red dwarf star K2-18. However, K2-18c doesn't really have a favourable atmosphere for life to thrive in it, as it's much closer to its star, being too hot to be habitable. When we finally decide to make the move, a planet called K2-18b might be our destination. Located in the Leo constellation, about 111 lightyears away from Earth, the Super-Earth planet was first discovered in 2015. K2-18b, scientists say, could be in an excellent location for alien life to emerge-having ideal conditions for surface water, a fundamental ingredient for life, to exist.

The study conducted by the University of Toronto and the University of Montreal, Canada was in collaboration with a dataset coming from the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) which used the European Southern Observatory's 3.6-metre telescope at La Silla Observatory in Chile.

But scientists weren't sure if the planet was a scaled-up version of Earth (a rocky or terrestrial planet) or a scaled-down version of Neptune (a gas and ice planet).

"If you can get the mass and radius, you can measure the bulk density of the planet and that can tell you what the bulk of the planet is made of", Cloutier said.

"Being able to measure the mass and density of K2-18b was tremendous, but to discover a new exoplanet was lucky and equally exciting", said Ryan Cloutier, a PhD student at the University of Toronto.

'Winner' Fabregas changed my mind, says Conte
I really mean it. "Especially how I play, the position, you can go for many more years, I can tell you many cases", Fabregas said. I was frustrated because of this situation and tried to say again.

Researchers believe K2-18b is either mostly rock with a slight gaseous atmosphere or mostly water surrounded by a thick, icy shell.

Current technology prevents us from being able to definitively say which one it is but the fact that it could be either is a huge leap forward in our understanding of this distant solar system.

By collecting so-called "radial velocity" data on K2-18, the scientists were able to estimate the size of K2-18b.

The James Webb Space Telescope is supposed to be a successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, and just recently it finished its test that took place in a frigidly cold chamber.

Researchers will have to wait until 2019 to confirm the atmospheric conditions of K2-18b, when NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is set to launch. After ruling out the possibility of noise, the astronomers announced a second planet called K2-18c.

"There's a lot of demand to use this telescope, so you have to be meticulous in choosing which exoplanets to look at", said study co-author René Doyon.

"When we first threw the data on the table we were trying to figure out what it was".

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