European astronomers have discovered a "super-Earth" — the smallest of the 125 currently known planets outside our solar system. This is a special press release said European Southern Observatory.
The new planet, which has not yet received the official name, found orbiting stars Mu Arae, which by their physical characteristics very similar to the Sun. This star is located 50 light-years from Earth in the constellation of the Altar, a visible from the Southern Hemisphere, it is bright enough that it can be distinguished by the naked eye. "Super-Earth" makes a complete revolution around its parent star in just 9.5 Earth days — so much last year on this planet. Earlier in orbit Arae found another giant planet the size of Jupiter, which makes a complete revolution around the star for 650 days.
"Super-Earth", whose mass is only 14 times the mass of our planet, the largest approximately Uranus — the smallest of the giant planets of the solar system. These figures are unique to the planets, which are outside the Solar System generally planets that can be detected with the help of modern equipment, are much more — not less than Jupiter, which is 318 times heavier than Earth and one contains up to 70% of the mass of our entire planetary system .
According to a press release, the European scientists have been able to find such a "small" planet due to precision instruments and optics, "Hunter planets" — spektografa Harps Observatory, La Silla, located in Chile at the height of 2400 meters above sea level.
On the "super-Earth" can be a life
According to the agency France Presse, "super-Earth" is not a gas giant, and a rocky planet like Earth, Mars, Venus and Mercury. In this case, it is a normal gas atmosphere, although it is not possible yet to determine the composition: it requires unprecedented in complexity and range expedition.
"These features make the planetary system Arae is very exciting for us," — said the French astronomer Francois Bushes.
Much more needs to be learned about this new world, including the most important — whether on this planet is the optimal distance from its star, which is not too cold and not too hot and the water can exist in liquid form. If it turns out that the planet is indeed in this fertile area, theoretically to the "super-Earth" life could exist.
Battery News, 26/08/2004 16:05