'Super Earth' That May Support Water DiscoveredCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: November 8, 2012 01:50PM
Astronomers have discovered a planet orbiting the star HD40307 in the constellation of Pictor that may be able to support liquid water. The planet, HD40307g, was discovered by the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Search run by the European Southern Observatory, an organization that often discovers new planets. The planet is approximately seven times the size of our Earth and is in the so called ‘Goldilocks zone,’ meaning the planet is far enough from the star that water can form without turning to vapor, while being close enough that the water doesn’t turn to ice. Water itself is not uncommon to find around the universe; one of the more interesting cases being GJ1214b a planet consisting mostly of water, albeit at 230 °C.
The planet HD40307g or one of its moons may be able to support life, however it will take the next generation of ground and space-based telescopes and observatories to get even close to discovering whether this, or any other planets, support any forms of life. A video from the ESO on this discovery is available below. Unfortunately, the planet is still 42 light years away from us and if Einstein's theory of relativity is correct, travelling faster than light is impossible (in this dimension, anyway), so we are unlikely to travel there ourselves in the near future.