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Planets around nearby star are intriguing candidates for extraterrestrial life

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Planets around nearby star are intriguing candidates for extraterrestrial life

By Will Dunham

 

2020-06-27T031658Z_1_LYNXMPEG5Q03K_RTROPTP_4_SPACE-EXPLORATION-GLIESE.JPG

The multiplanetary system of newly discovered super-Earths orbiting nearby red dwarf star Gliese 887 is seen in this artist's impression. Mark Garlick/Handout via REUTERS

 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Up to three planets - potentially rocky like Earth - have been spotted around a star located relatively near our solar system - a planetary system offering astronomers intriguing possibilities in the search for signs of extraterrestrial life.

 

The planets orbit Gliese 887, a so-called red dwarf star half the sun's mass located 11 light years from Earth - right in our backyard in cosmic terms, researchers said on Friday. A light year is the distance light travels in a year, 5.9 trillion miles (9.5 trillion km).

 

Only 12 other stars are closer to our solar system.

 

Two planets have been definitively identified, one orbiting Gliese 887 every nine days and the other every 21 days. One of these two is situated just inside what is called the habitable zone, or Goldilocks zone, around the star - not too hot and not too cold, perhaps able to maintain liquid water on the surface and harbor life.

 

A third potential planet orbiting every 50 days is located in the habitable zone, but still needs further confirmation.

 

"They are 'super-Earth' planets, which means that they are a few times the mass of the Earth and are expected to have a solid core like the Earth, as opposed to the big gas giants such as Jupiter and Saturn," said astronomer Sandra Jeffers of the University of Göttingen in Germany, lead author of the research published this week in the journal Science.

 

"The newly detected planets are the best possibilities of all the known planets in close proximity to the sun to see if they have atmospheres and to study these atmospheres in detail," Jeffers added, to learn whether their conditions are "amenable for life."

 

This planetary system will be a key target for study using NASA's next-generation James Webb Space Telescope, due for a 2021 launch, Jeffers said.

 

Red dwarf stars are relatively small and cool. Gliese 887 is exceptionally inactive in terms of energetic outbursts and dark starspots, meaning it could be hospitable to life on the planets in its orbit.

 

(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Sandra Maler)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2020-06-28
 
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Ditto; though looking at the history of the Earth, and the number of coincidences and accidents that had to occur to lead to an advanced breed of monkeys, I'm a bit doubtful we'll ever find intelligent life, maybe some more primitive forms if we're lucky; even that would be pretty mind blowing. If we ever did find intelligent life it would shake our world view to the core; I mean, it's one thing to consider these things as a divertissement, very different to know it as a reality.

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Only 100 trillion kms. Unless there is some major breakthrough in faster than light travel !! we will never see them.

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I think we should send protesters there soon,

no reason for them have less fun than what we have.

Also take a little bad of Co-Vid 19

that always makes friends.

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3 hours ago, Tug said:

Very cool hope we find out in my life time!

We won't....

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3 hours ago, Henryford said:

Only 100 trillion kms. Unless there is some major breakthrough in faster than light travel !! we will never see them.

"Never see them" – it's "only" 11 light years, why do they need to be faster than light...🤔

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3 hours ago, robblok said:

Intelligent life if it is around would want to avoid us. We are pretty violent as a species and look what we did with our planet.

They might already have been here, but decided we were of no further interest for contact...😉

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3 hours ago, Samui Bodoh said:

Isn't it possible, in a vast unending universe made up of billions and billions of stars/planets/galaxies that life could be based on other elements? Perhaps elements that we don't even know about yet? Why not a silicone-based life form which breathes methane? Or, other combinations? Further, a brief look at life on Earth (One planet! One!) shows life existing in various environments from plants in the middle of a desert to plants living up north under a snow cap to life existing near thermal vents deep, deep in the ocean; if all that is possible on one planet, why do we continually limit our thinking to life being rare on other worlds?

Indeed, but we can hardly understand it, and need to compare to something we already know, our own form of life.

 

How would an isolated native person, seeing our kind of technologically advanced civilization for the first time, try to explain it to explain understandable for the other folks in the tribe?

 

In fact, we could be the odd form of life in the Universe, that other life forms have difficulty in understanding the existence of; however, we don't know...🤔

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