Astronomers Discover 3 Planets That May Support Life

Astronomers Discover 3 Planets That May Support LifeAstronomers announced that they’ve identified a star system with up to seven planets — three of which could potentially host life — 22 light-years away.

‘Habitable zone’

The likelihood that conditions could support life on at least one of those planets, given that there are three terrestrial-mass planets in the habitable zone of one system, is “tremendous,” according to at least one scientist. The “habitable zone” is the area near a star in which a planet can theoretically hold liquid water. In our own solar system, Venus is close to the inner edge of potential habitability, while Mars is closer to the outer edge.

The discovery is the largest number of “habitable zone” planets ever found within a single system, said Guillem Anglada-Escude of the University of Gottingen, Germany, who led the team of astronomers. The findings were published Wednesday in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. The findings are only the latest in a recent string of identifications of planets that may host life.


‘More exciting discoveries’

The three planets orbit a star called Gliese 667C, part of the triple-star system Gliese 667. They are between four and eight times the mass of the Earth, making them “super-Earths.” The planets are likely either rocky or water worlds, meaning they’re entirely covered in water. These particular planets also appear to be “tidally locked,” meaning the same side of a planet is always facing a star. That means one side of the planet always gets light and the other hemisphere is always in darkness.

Because they are so far away, the composition of the atmospheres of all of these planets outside our solar system remains unknown. Whether life truly roams or swims out there is still to be seen. Still, Anglada-Escude says the existence of star systems packed with potentially habitable planets, and the diversity of planets that Kepler has found, suggest there are more exciting discoveries yet to come.

Do you think the astronomers are very close to finding another planet that is truly habitable for us? Feel free to share your speculations with us!

Source: Elizabeth Landau | CNN

Image: Sci Tech Daily

Annular Eclipse Coming Up This Weekend

We Earthlings have already been treated to nice meteor showers as well as a magnificent supermoon, and this weekend brings an annular solar eclipse.

That’s not even the best treat: Venus will be ambling between Earth and the sun in a rare (though non-earth-shattering) planetary alignment. Sure, the event might look like a black pimple floating across the face of the sun, but this celestial rarity once guided adventurous astronomers in their quest to determine the size of the solar system and yielded the first-ever global scientific collaboration. Don’t blink—Venus doesn’t cross our path again until December 2117.


A solar eclipse happens this Sunday, except for the Eastern seaboard (sorry). It’s an “annular” eclipse rather than a total one, which means the sun’s edges peek out from behind the moon, creating the illusion of a ring of fire. (The word “annular” comes from the Latin word for ring.) The lower 48 states will have to wait until Aug. 17, 2017, for a total shutout. This weekend’s eclipse

begins at dawn in southern China. It then sweeps across the Pacific Ocean, passing south of Alaska, and makes landfall on the Pacific coast near the California-Oregon border. It ends near Lubbock, Texas, at sunset. Partial phases of this eclipse will be visible over most of western North America. (May 9, Space.com)

Those of you in the annular path should head to higher ground (avoiding clouds and light pollution) and put solar filters either over your eyes or on your equipment. Thirty-three national parks will be hosting solar gatherings. Lucky Coloradans get to hang out for free at the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Folsom stadium, starting 5:30 p.m. local time, thanks to the Fiske Planetarium.

Designer sunglasses don’t cut it. At this late date, check telescope stores or call your local planetarium. No. 14 welder’s glass, carried in specialty welding stores, works too.

Will you be watching for the annular eclipse this weekend? Tell us of your previous sightings!

Source: Yahoo News

Image: ABC News