Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Planet colonisation BREAKTHROUGH: Earth-like planet may be nearby

AN EARTH-LIKE planet could be lurking nearby in what could be a major breakthrough in mankind's mission to colonise another globe.

Astronomers investigating a nearby star system known as Gliese 832 believe that there may be a planet which is similar to Earth and habitable as well.

Although the star system is 16 light years away, making it impossible to get there at the moment, there is hope that in the future humans will be able to travel such distances in a relatively short period of time.

Gliese 832 is a red dwarf star which is just half the mass of our sun.

As it stands there are two known planets orbiting it: Gliese 832b – a gas giant with 0.64 the mass of Jupiter and situated 3.53 AU from it, and Gliese 832c, a massive rocky planet some five times as big as Earth and orbiting just 0.16 AU from its host.

An AU is an astronomical unit and is the measurement between the Sun and the Earth, around 150 million kilometres.

However, because there is such a vast space between the two planets, a team from the University of Texas believe that there could be one similar to Earth and an appropriate distance to its host star lurking between them.

Gliese 832b and 832c were both discovered using a radial velocity technique – which allows scientists to extract data about planets’ orbital parameters.

They applied the same technique to a computer simulation and deduced that there could be a planet in between the two.

They added in their research paper published in the ‘arXiv’ journal: "We also used the integrated data from the time evolution of orbital parameters to generate the synthetic radial velocity curves of the known and the Earth-like planets in the system.”

As a result the team believer that an Earth-like planet is one AU from the star, but it could have a mass 10 times that of Earth’s.

Further studies will now be conducted to confirm its presence.