New planet 22 light years away may host waterFebruary 3rd, 2012 - 12:50 pm ICT by IANS
Sydney, Feb 3 (IANS) A new planet discovered some 22 light years from the earth is the most likely to hold water and possibly host life.
It receives about 90 percent of the light that the earth receives from the sun. But most of this incoming light is infrared, and so more of it will be absorbed by the planet, says Chris Tinney, professor at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).
“This means that overall the planet absorbs about the same amount of energy from its star as the Earth absorbs from the Sun: so that would give the planet the right temperature, if it has a rocky surface and a wet atmosphere, to host liquid water,” said Tinney.
“And liquid water is seen as an essential pre-condition for the development of life,” said Tinney, who co-authored the study with Jeremy Bailey and Rob Wittenmyer, the Astrophysical Journal Letters reports.
The planet, GJ 667Cc, circles a relatively cool star (GJ667C), has an orbital period of 28.15 days and a minimum mass of 4.5 times that of Earth, according to an UNSW statement.
“This discovery shows that habitable planets could form in a greater variety of environments than we previously considered,” said Simon O’Toole of the Australian Astronomical Observatory, another team member.
The planet was discovered using the “Doppler wobble” technique, which detects the slight movements of a star as its orbiting planets tug it to and fro in space.
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