Exciting news comes to us from a galaxy far, far away: a super earth discovered 42 light years from our planet may actually have the right conditions to support life as we know it.
Recently, astronomers, astrophysicists and other scientists have been finding new galaxy’s and planets all over the place. This is mostly because with recent advances in technology, scientists have been able to amp up the search. Tools like the High Accuracy Radial-Velocity Planet Searcher (H.A.R.P.S for short) and the Kepler Space Telescope help locate these planets by finding minute “wobbles” in the orbit of far away stars caused by the pull of gravity from a planet. One of the wobbles scientists detected may turn out to be very Earth-like.
Now, why should we care about a “very Earth-like” wobble? Mostly because an “Earth-like” wobble means that the planet may be able to support life like that on Earth, i.e. aliens.
The star HD 40307 supports a series of 6 planets in it’s orbit. Three of these planets are super earths, and one of the planets orbits in the “Goldilocks” zone, the area in which life as we know it could exist. It is not too close to it’s sun and it is not too far away, so there is a possibility that the planet could contain water and other building blocks of life. The super earth discovered is also similar to earth in that it isn’t tidal locked to the sun, meaning that all sides of the planet are exposed to the sun at some point in it’s orbit, giving it days and nights. As well as the fact that the super earth’s orbital year is about 320 of our days, making one of it’s years close to our years.
All of this means that, hopefully, sometime in the very near future our kick-ass telescopes can get a picture of an Earth like super planet, and maybe even be able to get a shot of non-terrestrial life!