Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


Astronomers discover Earth-like terrestrial planet

Astronomers discover terrestrial planet in binary star system

New Zealand scientists are among an international team that has discovered an Earth-sized planet with an Earth-like orbit in a binary star system, the first terrestrial planet with an Earth-like orbit ever discovered in this commonly found star system.

New Zealand scientists are among an international team that has discovered an Earth-sized planet with an Earth-like orbit in a binary star system, the first terrestrial planet with an Earth-like orbit ever discovered in this commonly found star system.

Binary star systems are made up of two stars orbiting each other. Half the stars in our Galaxy are in binary systems.

The latest discovery expands astronomers’ understanding of where Earth-like planets can form and, potentially at least, whether or not they might be habitable.

The new planet is 3000 light years away and twice the mass of Earth. It orbits one of two stars in its binary system at about the same distance Earth orbits the Sun. But the star it orbits is much dimmer than our Sun, meaning the planet is extremely cold, around -210C, and unlikely to harbor life on its surface as we know it.

“This discovery is exciting because we weren’t certain that terrestrial planets could form around one star of a binary star system,” says University of Auckland Department of Physics senior lecturer Nicholas Rattenbury. “This tells us there are many more stars in our Galaxy that could potentially be the host star to habitable planets.”

New Zealand astronomers from Auckland, Massey and Canterbury universities contributed to this latest discovery along with amateur astronomers and staff at Auckland’s Stardome Observatory. The results are published today in Science with sixty-four authors named.

Scientists used a technique known as microlensing to detect the planet. Microlensing discovers planets by measuring how the gravity of a planet and its host star deflects light coming from background stars. By measuring how a background star appears to change brightness through the gravitational “lens” effect of the foreground star, astronomers can tell whether there is also a planet orbiting the foreground star.

Dr Rattenbury said working with such a big team of astronomers from around the world had been a thrill.

“Twenty years ago, the first extra-solar planet discoveries were being made. Today, we find it likely the Galaxy is teeming with planets. Will some of them harbour life? That is of course the big question.”


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Company Results: Air NZ Rides The Tourism Boom With Record Full-Year Earnings

Air New Zealand has ridden the tourism boom and staved off increased competition to deliver the best full-year earnings in its 76-year history. More>>


New PGP: Sheep Milk Industry Gets $12.6M Crown Funding

The Sheep - Horizon Three programme aims to develop "a market driven, end-to-end value chain generating annual revenues of between $200 million and $700 million by 2030," according to a joint statement. More>>


Half Full: Fonterra Raises Forecast Milk Price

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today increased its 2016/17 forecast Farmgate Milk Price by 50 cents to $4.75 per kgMS. When combined with the forecast earnings per share range for the 2017 financial year of 50 to 60 cents, the total payout available to farmers in the current season is forecast to be $5.25 to $5.35 before retentions. More>>


Keep Digging: Seabed Ironsands Miner TransTasman Tries Again

The first company to attempt to gain a resource consent to mine ironsands from the ocean floor in New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone has lodged a new application containing fresh scientific and other evidence it hopes will persuade regulators after their initial application was turned down in 2014. More>>

Wool Pulled: Duvets Sold As ‘Premium Alpaca’ Mostly Sheep’s Wool

Rotorua business Budge Collection Limited (Budge) and sole director, Sun Dong Kim, were convicted and fined a total of $71,250 in Auckland District Court after each pleading guilty to four charges of misrepresenting how much alpaca fibre was in their duvets. More>>

Reserve Bank: Labour Calls For Monetary Policy To Expand Goals

Labour's comments follow a speech today by RBNZ governor Graeme Wheeler in which Wheeler sought to answer critics who variously say he should stop lowering interest rates, lower them faster, or that inflation-targeting should no longer be the primary goal of the central bank's activities. More>>


BSA Extension And Sunday Morning Ads: Digital Convergence Bill Captures Online Content

Broadcasting Minister Amy Adams has today announced the Government’s plans to update the Broadcasting Act to better reflect today’s converged market... The Government considered four areas as part of its review into content regulation: classification requirements, advertising restrictions, election programming and contestable funding. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news