Another nearby planet found that may be just right for life

Why astronomers are astounded by new 'super-Earth'

In the more hospitable environment on LHS 1140b, a vast magma ocean could have fed steam into the atmosphere, replenishing the planet with water, the scientists said.

Thus, LHS 1140b is located in the so-called "habitable zone", the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water. These planets are more massive than Earth but lighter than gas giants like Neptune or Uranus, and they're also fairly common throughout our galaxy. But it's much more massive at almost seven times the mass of Earth. But LHS 1140b's red dwarf star (named LHS 1140) is tinier and a lot cooler than our sun.

Local astronomer Thiam-Guan Tan, a retired engineer with a fascination for the stars, was part of an global team that concentrated on the search for planets in a particular part of space a year ago.

The quest to discover definitively whether life could have been sustained elsewhere in the universe has been intensifying since the first planet outside our solar system was found in 1992.

In 2015, Dittman was going over some observation data of small red stars collected by two robotically controlled observatories, called the MEarth Project, when he spotted something promising.

In what has been described as one of the most important discoveries of its kind in the past decade, the existence of Planet LHS1140b - about 40 per cent bigger than Earth - will be revealed today in the prestigious journal Nature by the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics. The astronomers estimate the planet is at least five billion years old, and deduce that it has a diameter of nearly 18,000 kilometers (11,185 mi)- 1.4 times larger than that of the Earth.

5 things to know about Tax Day: refunds are up, audits down
Most major tax software or tax preparers walk you through a series of questions to determine if you're eligible. But if you're pretty sure you're going to owe taxes, you must provide an estimated payment or face penalties.

'The LHS 1140 system might prove to be an even more important target for the future characterisation of planets in the habitable zone than Proxima b or TRAPPIST-1, ' two members of the worldwide team, Drs Xavier Delfosse and Xavier Bonfils, said.

Exoplanet discoveries in the past decade have made it clear there are plenty of other solar systems, but in the previous year we've increasingly spotted new worlds that indicate there may be plenty of other Earths out there too. The distance between LHS1140b and its host star is about 8 percent of the distance between Earth and the Sun, but the amount of high-energy radiation it receives is still relatively low. "This star that LHS 1140b orbits seems to be quiet, so it's not going to damage the planet's atmosphere or anything on its surface", Dittmann explained.

Its density is one of the main reasons for considering the planet a possible location for extraterrestrial life. Depicted in blue is the atmosphere the planet may have retained. Further observations were then made by the European Southern Observatory's High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS), from which, among other things, astronomers were able to calculate LHS 1140b's size, density and orbital period, as well as take an informed stab at its age.

LHS 1140b's star is comparatively larger than TRAPPIST-1 and brighter, so it could be an object of study for future ground-based telescopes in addition to the James Webb Space Telescope. TRAPPIST-1 is just a little too dim to do this, Dittmann argues. "We don't have atmospheric measurements right now, but the star behaves nicely so that it's not ruling out anything", says Dittman.

The new planet was found using eight small telescopes in Chile and help from an amateur planet-hunter, Charbonneau said.

Related News:

  • Vijay Mallya freed on strict bail conditions in UK

    The judge must decide whether any of the statutory bars in the Act apply in the case, including health and human rights grounds. The court has set May 17 as the date for the next hearing.

    Bannon, Kushner meet to smooth tensions

    But after his removal from the National Security Council, Bannon said his job was done and offered a different explanation for his role.
    Champions League: Barcelona may not repeat PSG miracle against Juventus

    Champions League: Barcelona may not repeat PSG miracle against Juventus

    We've had very little luck of late, and now I can only hope that from tomorrow we get back on our feet. We did that in this game looking for a goal but the result is there.
  • Facebook murder suspect Steve Stephens shoots himself to death

    Stephens was the target of an intense manhunt in the Easter Sunday slaying of mechanic Robert Godwin in Cleveland. Stephens claimed on Facebook that he had killed more people, but so far, police don't know of any other victims.

    Galaxy S8 won't have Bixby voice function at launch

    The same report also stated that Bixby's most widely advertised feature, voice control, would not immediately be available. Other features, including Bixby Vision, Home, and Reminder, would, however, be available.
    China gave Ivanka 3 trademarks on day she dined with president

    China gave Ivanka 3 trademarks on day she dined with president

    She popped into the Chinese Embassy with her 5-year-old daughter, Arabella Kushner . Oh, and the President of China, Xi Jinping , and his wife were there too.
  • Billionaires, companies power Trump's record inaugural haul

    Billionaires, companies power Trump's record inaugural haul

    Inaugural committees face few of the regulations that limit campaigns in what they can raise and how they can go about raising it. Billionaire Texan Kelcy Warren, whose company is building the Dakota Access Pipeline, gave the inaugural committee $250,000.

    Samsung reportedly planning rugged Galaxy S8 for AT&T

    T-Mobile appears to have a thing about not sticking to the release dates announced by manufacturers for their new smartphones. We should expect to start seeing social media posts from proud owners of the Galaxy S8 in just a couple of days from now.
    How about turning a coal mine into a solar farm?

    How about turning a coal mine into a solar farm?

    The worry was that Germany's grid would become unreliable and erratic since it relied on multiple inconsistent energy supplies. It is widely accepted in the energy industry that US coal production will fall as a percentage of the total electric grid mix.
  • Celtics Coach: If Smart made a gesture, 'it's unacceptable'

    He only got eight shots in the first game and only 13 in the second game, but he's a special talent and deserves to have more. He's a 5-foot-9-point guard - and a helluva player at that - but is asked to do too much for a player of his size.
    Restraining order filed by Gov. Robert Bentley stayed by Alabama Supreme Court

    Restraining order filed by Gov. Robert Bentley stayed by Alabama Supreme Court

    Garber said that since 1929 only two US governors have been removed by impeachment and both were under criminal indictment. Bentley continued to deny any wrongdoing and criticized unnamed people for "taking pleasure in shaming" him and his family.
    In charts: Tracking house prices in Canada's hottest housing markets

    In charts: Tracking house prices in Canada's hottest housing markets

    The largest decrease in the market was the price of purchasing a condo, according to Norm Fisher, a broker and owner of Royal LePage Vidorra in Saskatoon.


Most liked

UK prime minister defends decision to seek snap election
The premier has already backed out from televised debates, drawing fire from opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn . May added that securing the "right deal" with Brussels for Britain is her priority.

At Easter, Catholics urged to welcome God's love, share with others
This celebration speaks to those of deep faith, but also to a world of others who are seeking renewal and hope in their lives. I love Easter because the music is so uplifting - and reminds me of the people I love who sang it with me for so many years.

Derek Jeter, Jeb Bush Team Up to Bid for Miami Marlins
Those involved in the bidding process say the team's price tag could go from $800 million to $1.6 billion. In its most recent valuation in 2016, Forbes estimated the franchise is now worth $675 million.

Leonard's 37 points lead Spurs by Grizzlies 96-82
Now he's proven to his players and the National Basketball Association what he's about. "In the first half, it was a little sore". The Grizzlies came into the postseason as the Western Conference's No. 7 seed while matching up with the No. 2 seeded Spurs.

US, Japan agree China should play larger role on North Korea
He added that Japan needed to apply pressure on Pyongyang to "seriously respond to a dialogue" with the worldwide community. In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made a new appeal Tuesday for calm on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea flaunts long-range missiles in birthday parade
In his annual New Year's address, Kim said North Korea's preparations for an ICBM launch had "reached the final stage". North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves during the Saturday military parade.

Apple Self-Driving Car Project is Alive
The current permit allows Apple to test self-driving technology in three 2015 Lexus RX 450h luxury hybrid sport utility vehicles. According to reports , Apple will soon commence the testing of its self-driving vehicle software platform on public streets.

Britain's prime minister to seek early election on June 8
But why now? A recent study conducted by Observer showed that British voters trust the current conservative Prime Minister. That motion, as set out by the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, will require a two-thirds majority of the House of Commons .

Midland Congressman Mike Conaway in Charge of Russia Investigation
Representative Mike Conaway, the most senior Republican on the intelligence committee, will now lead the probe. The House ethics committee is investigating whether he improperly disclosed classified information.

Man United defeat 10-man Sunderland 3-0 in EPL
We reacted to the results of yesterday because Man City and Liverpool won and it left us in a position of 'yes or no?' and it was a yes.

Cristiano Ronaldo Lifts Real Madrid Past Bayern Munich In Extra Time
The Portugal star netted twice in extra time as the hosts at the Santiago Bernabeu recorded a 6-3 win on aggregate. None of Bayern Munich's last 11 Champions League games has ended in a draw (W7 L4).

Johnson & Johnson tops 1Q profit forecasts
The current share price indicate that stock is -32.54% away from its one year high and is moving 32.53% ahead of its 52-week low. Finally, Clark Capital Management Group Inc. increased its stake in shares of Johnson & Johnson by 3.3% in the fourth quarter.

Trump's 'truly great' pick for Supreme Court sworn in
Gorsuch's swearing in comes after a fierce confirmation battle, waged largely along party lines, that deeply divided the Senate. For his part, Gorsuch said: " I am humbled by the trust placed in me today. "We are here to celebrate history", Trump said.

Pierre on Conor McGregor: "He's the biggest"
I know Floyd will never fight Conor in a mixed martial arts fight, but Conor could fight Floyd in a boxing match. We're not, we're not even close".

Prince William and Prince Harry at Anniversary of Vimy Ridge
The prime minister delivered the address at the commemorative ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Prince William, Prince Harry and Justin Trudeau remembered those who sacrificed their lives in the Battle Vimy Ridge.