Scientists are doing research for so many years to know about life on other planets. We have studied a lot about solar system in our high school. It consists of eight planets and one star ‘sun’. Earth is one of these eight planets. Discovery of around 800 planets outside our solar system confirms that solar system is not unique. There are hundreds of planets including eight from solar system but not all can sustain life. Couple of weeks ago, Yale University announced discovery of a Diamond planet whose surface is covered by graphite and carbon.
Another recent and interesting development came on 18th October 2012, when Xavier Dumusque’s work got published in the journal Nature. He observed this planet for almost four years at Geneva observatory Switzerland. Astronomers predict that there are millions of planets outside solar system called exoplanets. The best thing about discovery of this new planet is its size and location.
The author said that its size is almost equal to earth’s size marking it as a rocky surface. The planet orbits star ‘Alpha Centauri B’ which is smaller than sun but this planet is so close to its star that surface is made up of molten lave (with temperature of around 1300 degrees Fahrenheit). The reason astronomers are in high spirits on this discovery is that, there are chances for presence of more such planets in its vicinity and also lying in Goldilocks zone (Its habitable zone in space, where temperature is not too hot, not too cool).
This is not first discovery of its kind, last year we learned from researchers at University of California that they had discovered an exoplanet ‘Gliese 581g’ with water on its surface. The research results came after 11 years of planet observations. ‘Gliese 581g’ is 123 trillion miles away and located in Goldilocks zone. This recent exoplanet discovered by Dumusque has more significance because it’s “relatively close” to earth at a distance of 25 trillion miles (4 light years). With the present techno logy it will take tens of thousands of years of a rocket trip to land on its surface.
There are chances that in future astronomers may find some other exoplanets in same range, orbiting same star and in Goldilocks zones too. At the moment problem is ‘Alpha Centauri B’ is so bright that it’s difficult to observe more satellites revolving around it. Earth takes 365 days to complete an orbit around sun while this new planet completes orbiting in 3 days around its star.
An important question must have risen in minds of readers regarding detection methods and details about planets so far from earth. Scientist use some latest tools to measure how fast the star is moving toward or away from earth through wavelength of light from star which gets shifted due to presence of planets gravity.
This discovery is not only good news for astronomers but also opens new doors for research. Need for new tools arise to observe exoplanets in this particular range. Rocket technology need to be improved to send missions on exoplanets in short time.
Last but not least scientist would study about environment of such planets which can be helpful for future discoveries. It’s indeed a milestone in astronomy research but the future goal of scientists is to find an exoplanet of similar size like earth and positioned in Goldilocks zone with respect to distance from its star.