Scientists have discovered sixty new alien worlds orbiting stars located in the vicinity of our solar system. Interestingly, some of the newly found alien worlds ‘could be just like Earth’, which raises hope of finding alien life. Researchers say the new discovery demonstrates that ‘virtually all’ the nearest stars to the sun have planets orbiting them.
Among the dozens of newly discovered planets, one particular planet—a hot Super-Earth called Gliese 411b— most likely has a ROCKY surface and could be eerily similar to Earth.
Gliese411b is located in the fourth nearest solar system to ours.
Furthermore, experts say that Gliese 411b demonstrates that ‘nearly all’ nearby stars to the sun have planets orbiting them, and some of them are mot likely extremely similar to Earth.
The new historic discovery was made by an international group of astronomers led by the University of Hertfordshire.
Interestingly, together with the newly found 60 alien worlds, researchers found evidence of the existence of additional 54 planets, which tops the total number of potential new planets to 114.
These discoveries were made possible thanks to around 61,000 INDIVIDUAL observations of 1,600 stars in a period of 20 years by American astronomers using the Keck-I telescope in Hawaii.
The observations were part of the Lick-Carnegie Exoplanet Survey, which was started in 1996 by astronomers Steve Vogt and Geoffrey Marcy from the University of California and Paul Butler, from the Carnegie Institute of Science, in Washington.
“It is fascinating to think that when we look at the nearest stars, all of them appear to have planets orbiting them. This is something astronomers were not convinced about, even as little as five years ago. These new planets also help us better understand the formation processes of planetary systems and provide interesting targets for future efforts to image the planets directly,” said Dr. Mikko Tuomi, who led the study.
“This paper and data release is one of my crowning achievements as an astronomer. It represents a good chunk of my life’s work,” Dr. Paul Butler, from the Carnegie Institute of Science added.
A Worldwide collaboration
According to Carnegie Science, the team is hoping their decision will lead to a flurry of new science, as astronomers around the globe combine the HIRES data with their own existing observations, or mount new observing campaigns to follow up on potential signals. The catalog release is part of a growing trend in exoplanet science to broaden the audience and discovery space, which has emerged in part to handle the aftermath of follow-up discoveries by NASA’s Kepler and K2 missions.
“I think this paper sets a precedent for how the community can collaborate on exoplanet detection and follow-up”, said team member Johanna Teske of Carnegie’s Observatories and Department of Terrestrial Magnetism. “With NASA’s TESS mission on the horizon, which is expected to detect 1000+ planets orbiting bright, nearby stars, exoplanet scientists will soon have a whole new pool of planets to follow up.”
“The best way to advance the field and further our understanding of what these planets are made out of is to harness the abilities of a variety of precision radial velocity instruments, and deploy them in concert,” added team member Jennifer Burt of MIT. “But that will require some big teams to break from tradition and start leading serious cooperative efforts.”
And from Carnegie’s Paul Butler, the paper’s lead author and the man who helped jumpstart the field of exoplanet science: “This paper and data release represents a good chunk of my life’s work.”