You are here:: Publication Latest News Scientists discover new earth
 
 

Scientists discover new earth

E-mail Print PDF

"This system probably looks a lot like ours did when life first took root on Earth."
This was the statement of Dana Backman of the Institute in Mountain View, California, the lead author of a report to be published in the Astrophysical Journal this coming January 10, 2009.

Astronomers have discovered a variable star close enough to the Earth to be visible to the naked eye. Epsilon Eridani, a star 10.5 light years (63 trillion miles) from the Earth, have been found to have orbital wherein three or more heavenly bodies revolve.
Compared with our Sun, this host star is slightly smaller and cooler. This star is a part of the constellation Eridanus – the name of a mythological river – near the Orion Star.

Epsilon Eridani is also much younger than the sun, about 850 million years old compared with 4.5 billion years for our system.
"This really is a system like our solar system was when it was five times younger than it is now," said one of the discoverers, Massimo Marengo, an astronomer at the Harvard - Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass.


Marengo added that it's like a time machine for our solar system. Even in the past, Epsilon Eridani has long been observed due to the signs it gives to the researchers that it has celestial bodies orbiting in it.


The suspected celestial bodies in orbit around the host star is said to be too far away to be detected, unless their point of orbit will direct towards Earth. Their presence in their orbits can only be inferred by indirect measurements. Scientists promised to give better and comprehensive results for the next year to come with a better telescope.


Now Backman’s team has deduced the presence of at least two more planets, after space- and ground-based telescopes separately revealed two belts of rocky asteroids and an outer icy ring circling Epsilon Eridani.


The inner asteroid belt is about 280 million miles from its host star, the same distance as our own ring of asteroids orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. The second belt is about the same distance as Uranus is in our system.


"The easiest way to explain the gaps is to say there are planets there," Marengo said.


“It's the same way as the rings of Saturn are kept stable by the moon,” he added.


Furthermore, Marengo raised the possibility that more Earthlike planets might exist in the space between Epsilon Eridani and the inner dust ring.


On the other hand, in 2002, Alice Quillen, an astronomer at the University of Rochester in New York State, reported that unusual clumps of material in the outer ring probably indicated the presence of a Saturn - size planet in a Pluto-like orbit.
He thinks these rings are probably telling about how systems clear out after planets have formed.