A new study from NASA and the SETI Institute comes up with an exciting number of potentially life-supporting planets.
- A study analyzes data from the Kepler Space Telescope and the European Space Agency's GAIA survey to estimate the number of habitable planets.
- There may be 30 such planets in our own galactic neighborhood.
- The new estimate may help inform future research and missions.
What the study finds<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDY3NTYwNi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNTU3Nzg1N30.swHaJYjq0p2WFJaUltnkFj9_6CVCP0oEQ1OBattKiLE/img.jpg?width=980" id="b7242" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="33603a8e42b17757ea7983c636c8805c" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Illustration of Kepler-7
Credit: SETI<p>The team that produced the new report was led by Steve Bryson of NASA's Ames Research Center in California. The authors of the study looked for stars that are similar in size, age, and temperature to our Sun, between 4,527 to 6,027 °C. These stars are <a href="https://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/astronomy/stars/startypes.shtml" target="_blank">either</a> G dwarfs, or slightly smaller and more plentiful K dwarfs. Next, they looked for planets orbiting such stars that ranged in size from 0.5 to 1.5 times the size of Earth on the assumption that they were most likely to be rocky planets like ours.</p><p>A big factor affecting habitability is the ability to support surface water. Earlier estimates of habitable planets have focused primarily on an exoplanet's distance from its sun, the so-called "habitable zone." The new research also takes into consideration the amount of light the planet receives from its sun as a factor in the likelihood of water. The authors of the study supplemented the Kepler data with spectroscopic measurements from the European Space Agency's <a href="https://www.gaia-eso.eu" target="_blank">GAIA</a> survey of a billion stars in the Milky Way.</p><p>The stars can be dim enough that their habitable zones are close, causing any exoplanets there to be tidally locked, which means the same side always faces their sun. This makes the stripping off of their atmospheres more likely. One of the unknowns is the degree to which a planet's atmosphere impacts its ability to retain water, though, and for the current research, the authors presumed that atmosphere has a minimal effect on the likelihood of surface water.</p><p>Taking all this into consideration, the research "estimate with 95% confidence that, on average, the nearest HZ planet around G and K dwarfs is ∼6 pc away, and there are ∼ 4 HZ rocky planets around G and K dwarfs within 10 pc of the Sun." (pc is the abbreviation for <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parsec" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">parsec</a>.)</p><p>The study offers both a conservative estimate of the number of habitable exoplanets orbiting their stars — 0.37 to 0.60 planets per star — and a more optimistic one: 0.58 to 0.88 per star. More than half of galaxy's suitable stars may have habitable planets.</p>
Refining a search<p>On a basic level, Coughlin notes, the study means "we're one step closer on the long road to finding out if we're alone in the cosmos."</p><p>The research may also prove useful in targeting future study and missions. Says Michelle Kunimoto of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite group at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, "Knowing how common different kinds of planets are is extremely valuable for the design of upcoming exoplanet-finding missions." She adds that "surveys aimed at small, potentially habitable planets around Sun-like stars will depend on results like these to maximize their chance of success."</p>
Astronomers propose new estimate of Earth-like planets in the Milky Way galaxy.
- Astronomers make new analysis based on data from NASA's Kepler space telescope.
- The researchers estimate there may be as many as six billion Earth-like planets in our galaxy alone.
- The scientists looked for planets that would be able to host life.
Legacy of NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="016eaa43a6faff34c8d0497af019bad0"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_V7J05fK5e0?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Astronomers spot periodic lights coming from near the black hole at the center of our galaxy.
- Astronomers in Japan observe periodic lights coming from the region near the black hole at the center of our galaxy.
- The twinkling may be produced by hot spots in the accretion disk around the black hole.
- The mysterious region studied features extreme gravity.
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New study of gamma rays and gravitational lensing points to the possible presence of dark matter.
- Analyzing data from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, researchers find hints of dark matter.
- The scientists looked to spot a correlation between gravitational lensing and gamma rays.
- Future release of data can pinpoint whether the dark matter is really responsible for observed effects.
The Difference Between Quasars, Blazars, Pulsars and Radio Galaxies<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8c4a44762134cae06132534b51a15a65"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Kc_d_sNBuN8?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
An overlap of gravitational lenses and gamma-ray signals could indicate the presence of dark matter.
Credit: D. Gruen/SLAC/Stanford; C. Chang/University of Chicago; A. Drlica-Wagner/Fermilab
Researchers find what causes the glow coming from the densest objects in our universe.
- Columbia University astrophysicists discovered the cause of the unusual glow coming from regions of space with black holes and neutron stars.
- The researchers ran some of the largest computer simulations ever to reach their conclusions.
- They found that turbulence and reconnection of super-strong magnetic fields are responsible for the light.
Amazing astronomy: How neutron stars create ripples in space-time<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="skGLOb3j" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="4181b5782ae4c412ce8a339ea70571ff"> <div id="botr_skGLOb3j_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/skGLOb3j-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/skGLOb3j-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/skGLOb3j-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
A massive super-computer simulation demonstrates the strong particle density fluctuations that happen in the extreme turbulent environments home to black holes and neutron stars. The dark blue regions are low particle density regions, and the yellow regions are over-dense regions. Particles are accelerated to extremely high speeds from interacting with turbulence fluctuations.