Astronomers Discover Earthlike Planet 16 Light-Years Away
Gliese 832c, discovered by a team of Australian scientists, is among the top three most similar known planets to Earth.
What's the Latest?
Sci-News reports Australian astronomers have discovered what may be the most Earthlike planet among those known to humans. The scientists at the University of New South Wales spotted Gliese 832c (also known as HD 204961 or LHS 3685) orbiting a red dwarf star about 16 light-years away. Gliese 832c has a shorter year than Earth -- 35 days rather than 365 -- and contains five times as much mass. Despite these differences, Gliese 832c orbits in the red dwarf's Goldilocks Zone, which is to say that its position within its star system makes it theoretically conducive to supporting life. Gliese 832c receives about the same amount of energy from its star as Earth does from the sun .
What's the Big Idea?
Ellis Hamburger of The Verge notes that Gliese 832c's elevated mass likely means the planet's weather is hotter and more volatile than our own. This may push the planet towards being more of a super-Venus than a super-Earth. Still, the astronomers are excited:
“It will be interesting to know if any additional objects in the Gliese 832 system follow this familiar Solar System configuration, but this architecture remains rare among the known exoplanet systems."
According to The Earth Similarity Index, Gliese 832c is among the top 3 most similar known planets to Earth, and certainly the closest (though another Gliese -- Gliese 667Cc -- is only about 22 light years away).
Photo credit: Len Savitskiy / Shutterstock
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
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