Astronomers confirm existence of Earthlike exoplanet 21 light years away


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Worlds without end: Astronomers have confirmed the existence of a rocky Earthlike exoplanet only 21 light years away.

HD 219134b is also the closest exoplanet to Earth to be detected transiting, or crossing in front of, its star and, therefore, perfect for extensive research. “Transiting exoplanets are worth their weight in gold because they can be extensively characterized,” said Michael Werner, the project scientist for the Spitzer mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “This exoplanet will be one of the most studied for decades to come.”

The planet has a mass 4.5 times that of Earth, and orbits its sun every three days, which means it is not likely to harbor life. Its sun also harbors three other small exoplanets, but little is known of them.

Expect a lot more news coming from HD 219134b, however. With transits every three days, astronomers are going to have a lot of opportunities to study its atmosphere and make-up.

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One comment

  • pzatchok

    Why have you called it an Earth like planet?

    At 4.5g’s we might just be able to live on if we really really had to.

    At an orbit of three days exactly how far from its sun would that place it?

    Due to the data they have JPL estimates its size to be 1.6 that of Earth.

    At that orbital speed and mass it stands a very good chance of either being so volcanic that its uninhabitable or tidally locked and no longer volcanic. And without vulcanism what are its chances of having any atmosphere at all?

    Mars is closer to a inhabitable planet than this thing is. And the best we could ever do on Mars is live in domes.

    With a mass that high would it even be feasible to harvest or mine it for resources if we got to it?

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