Search For Earth's Twin Narrows Down To M-Dwarfs

The most common stars in our galaxy were too small to be seen until recently. A new study suggests that there's a good chance that they support Earth-like planets.

What's the Latest Development?


A study done by astronomers at Harvard University suggests that greater attention should be paid to a class of stars called M-dwarfs, since it seems that almost all of the more than 300 Earth-sized exoplanets currently discovered by NASA's Kepler telescope orbit around one of them. According to astronomer David Charbonneau, “If the Sun is a hundred-watt bulb, M-dwarfs are Christmas-tree lights.” They constitute only a small portion of the total number of stars in Kepler's vision, but they make up a large portion of the stars in the Milky Way. 

What's the Big Idea?

M-dwarfs tend to be more active than our Sun, but the period of activity lasts much longer, which means that any Earth-sized planet that exists in an M-dwarf's habitable zone may have been supporting life for as many as 10 billion years -- more than twice as long as Earth. Thanks in part to Kepler, scientists know that at least 248 M-dwarfs are in our immediate area. If it turns out that these stars are most likely to have Earth-like planets around them, the nearest one could be as little as 13 light-years away -- a distance that the study's lead author Courtney Dressing says "is like a stroll across the park" in astronomical terms.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at Time

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
Keep reading Show less

Elizabeth Warren's plan to forgive student loan debt could lead to an economic boom

A plan to forgive almost a trillion dollars in debt would solve the student loan debt crisis, but can it work?

Photo credit: Drew Angerer / Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren has just proposed a bold education reform plan that would forgive billions in student debt.
  • The plan would forgive the debt held by more than 30 million Americans.
  • The debt forgiveness program is one part of a larger program to make higher education more accessible.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists discover how to trap mysterious dark matter

A new method promises to capture an elusive dark world particle.

Surprising Science
  • Scientists working on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) devised a method for trapping dark matter particles.
  • Dark matter is estimated to take up 26.8% of all matter in the Universe.
  • The researchers will be able to try their approach in 2021, when the LHC goes back online.
Keep reading Show less

Supreme Court to hear 3 cases on LGBT workplace discrimination

In most states, LGBTQ Americans have no legal protections against discrimination in the workplace.

(Photo by Andres Pantoja/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The Supreme Court will decide whether the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also applies to gay and transgender people.
  • The court, which currently has a probable conservative majority, will likely decide on the cases in 2020.
  • Only 21 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws effectively extending the Civil Rights of 1964 to gay and transgender people.
Keep reading Show less