Monday, July 13, 2015

The exoplanets that hint at life billions of years older than Earth: Five new planets raises possibility of super-advanced civilisations

  • Solar system's parent star, named Kepler-444, is 117 light years from Earth
  • 11.2 billion-year-old star formed when the universe was a fifth of its age
  • Five Earth-sized planets orbit the star with years equivalent to 10 days
  • Find shows Earth-sized planets have formed throughout universe's history
A solar system including five Earth-sized planets has been discovered which is so ancient it was born not long after the dawn of time - and experts say it could help find life on planets far older than we expected.

The system's parent star, named Kepler-444, is 117 light years from Earth and 11.2 billion years old.

When the sun-like star was formed out of a primordial cloud of gas and dust, the universe was just a fifth of its current age.

In January, a group led by Tiago Campante — an astroseismology or 'starquake' researcher at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom — announced the discovery of five tiny, likely rocky worlds close to an ancient star.

Now he says that discovery could lead to new insights into where alien life could be.

'This system gives us hope that there are other habitable worlds that we can't detect because we don't have enough observing timespan yet,' Campante told Nasa's Astrobio.net.

Upcoming observatories could change that, he added.

Whether life can live for billions of years, however, is pure speculation.

'If intelligent life develops in a system as old as this one, would it still exist or would they extinguish themselves?' Campante asked.

The star is named Kepler-444 after NASA's planet-hunting Kepler mission, which first made a tentative discovery.

The star was originally dubbed KOI-3158, but has just been re-named.

Astronomers have shown that it hosts five planets with diameters ranging between those of Mercury and Venus.

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3159779/The-exoplanets-hint-life-billions-years-older-Earth-Five-new-planets-raises-possibility-super-advanced-civilisations.html