Results tagged “exoplanets” from Sunday Mercury - Weird Science
A star system containing two potentially habitable Earth-like planets is being targeted by scientists searching for extra-terrestrial intelligence.
In the coming months, astronomers will turn an array of radio telescope dishes towards Kepler-62, a star smaller and dimmer than the Sun about 1,000 light years away in the constellation Lyra.
A pair of so-called "super-Earths" have been detected within the "habitable zone" of the star, the orbital region where temperatures are just warm enough to allow bodies of surface water such as oceans and lakes.
Astronomers have detected clouds of carbon monoxide and water vapour around a huge gassy planet orbiting a star 130 light years away.
The study is the most detailed yet of the atmosphere of an "exoplanet".
In future, scientists hope to use similar techniques to uncover signatures of life in the atmospheres of Earth-like worlds.
ET may not be calling any time soon, according to an expert who claims belief in a universe teeming with life is misplaced.
Professor Charles Cockell argues that Earth may be a lonelier place than is popularly thought. This is despite recent discoveries of a plethora of distant solar systems and potentially habitable planets.
On Earth, living organisms fill just about every environment capable of supporting them.
This leaves the wrong impression that life is bound to arise anywhere it can, says Prof Cockell.
Earth-like planets could be all around us - and some may harbour life more advanced than on Earth, astronomers believe.
A space telescope has found that 6% of red dwarf stars are circled by potentially habitable worlds.
Since red dwarfs are the most common stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way, the closest Earth-like planet could be just 13 light years away.